The Van’s RV-14 is an Experimental Category, homebuilt, single-engine aircraft which is quickly growing in popularity across general aviation. The kit manufacturer, Van’s Aircraft, supplies the plans, the parts and technical support. It is up to the builder to build, test and complete the airplane.
There are nearly 10,000 Van’s Aircraft homebuilt airplanes, of various models, that have been built over the last several decades and are actively flying – most would agree that the Van’s RV aircraft is the most popular homebuilt series of aircraft in aviation history, certainly the most plentiful. The RV-14 is Vans’ latest model, and there is a rich history of previous and other current models.
An RV-14 can carry two good-sized adults, full fuel, baggage, and cruise at nearly 200 MPH for 1,000 miles in a spacious cockpit. And, as far as aircraft go, it’s quite efficient and will burn about 10-12 gallons per hour with an engine that is over 200 horsepower. The RV-14 also has aerobatic capabilities.
Who am I and why am I doing this?
I’ve been into airplanes since I was a kid, but never imagined I’d build one. Years ago, when I heard about people building their own airplanes, I thought they were crazy. But, things have changed in the past couple decades … homebuilts used to be “out on the edge”, but nowadays they’re mainstream. Between technology improvements and industry maturity, the homebuilt scene has proliferated. Suddenly, it didn’t seem too crazy, especially when I saw other folks just like me, taking on homebuilt airplane build projects. What an opportunity to learn shop skills and understand the process! I’m not smarter than the average bear, and I don’t have years of manufacturing experience. In fact, my entire career has been as an I.T. geek. What I do have, though, is the ability to follow instructions, the wisdom to seek advice when needed, the determination to make it happen, and the stubbornness to stick with it to the end. Really, that’s all it takes.
Why a taildragger?
The RV-14 is a tailwheel-equipped airplane. Why build that, when I could build the RV-14A which is a tricycle-geared airplane? Because, I enjoy the greater challenges of flying a tailwheel airplane. And, besides, a tailwheel airplane looks sexier. And, how does the old adage go? “Real pilots fly taildraggers” (really, I’m just kidding).
Why am I blogging all this?
The FAA requires an amateur aircraft builder to document the build process – this is known as a “build log”. While the extent to which the log must go is vague, many builders enjoy documenting their build with pictures and text with far greater detail than what is minimally acceptable by the FAA-designated inspector. Such build logs can be helpful to others in the future when they embark upon their own journey to build an airplane, too.