Why an RV-7A?

The Vans line of kits is one of the most successful home built aircraft series ever developed. Successful in this case means quality design and materials, great performance for its class, and a large number of happy builders and flying airplanes. It also means a stable company that stands behind the product, supports the builders, and improves the product over time. The RV-7A is an evolution of the Vans design approach and the successor to the RV-6 models that have over X000 flying aircraft.

The Vans line breaks down into two top-level categories; side-by-side and tandem models. Although I love the look and the aerodynamics of the tandem models like the RV-8, my wife insisted that if we are going to build an airplane it would be a side-by-side model so she can see me face to face and can “take over when I have a heart attack”. I know that doesn’t make much sense but I do understand the benefits of sitting next to each other and I also think it’s a little easier to manage weight and balance when both passengers sit along the center of the wing.

So that narrowed it down to the RV-7/7A, RV-9/9A, RV-10 or the RV-12. The RV-10 is four-place which is great but the cost is a major step up from the other two-place airplanes. The RV-12 is an LSA class airplane so it is limited by the FAA to a max cruise speed of 125 knots and that’s not to my taste. So the choice really came down to the RV-7 and RV-9 models. I like the RV-9 a lot. It’s very similar to the RV-7 but has a different wing that is not designed for aerobatic loads. The cost of the RV-7 and the RV-9 are about the same so I choose the 7.

But the choices don’t end there. The base RV-7 is a tail dragger whereas the RV-7A has tricycle gear. I like the look of the tail dragger but really like the visibility with the tricycle gear during taxi. I finally decided that my visibility looking out is ultimately more important than the view other people have of the airplane – at least when I’m in it. So the decision is the RV-7A. Now the engine is a whole other matter that I’ll get to later, but let’s just say that it will have a conventional Lycoming or clone rather than one of the more unconventional options that some have chosen.

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  1. May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Hi John,
    I have been following your log for some time now and find it helpful for me. We are approaching the end of wing construction and have what I believe to be good momentum (though you really do make progress). I look forward to seeing you complete your project and safely taking it to the sky.

    Regards,
    Chris Goodworth
    Halls Head, Western Australia
    rv7awesternaustralia.worspress.com (or for earlier entries rv-7a-wa.com)

    • May 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement from down under Chris. It’s great to hear from other builders like yourself. I took note of your web site and will enjoy browsing it in my free time. I hope to some day get down your way to see Australia. It’s definitely on my bucket list.

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