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Why I Chose an RV-8

The RV-8 from Van's Aircraft fit my specific needs.  You need to analyze your own needs first before choosing the kit that's right for you.  If you build a plane because your friend did, and it does what he wants but not what you want, you won’t be happy.

My Criteria.  I wanted a two place plane that would be a respectable cross-country machine (around 200KTS).  It also needed to be fully acrobatic.  I wanted to build metal, wood or tube and fabric, but if after I compared everything, a fiberglass plane won out, I would have gone that way.  (I just don’t like working with fiberglass.  I can do it, I just don’t like to.)

My Search.  I started my search for the right plane by talking to others, reading the "Kitplane" and "Sport Aviation" issues that list all kits and plans.  I also looked at "Trade-A-Plane" to compare prices of completed aircraft.  Because of my speed and acrobatics requirements, I quickly narrowed the field down to just a few planes.

The Completeability Factor.  I looked at my short list of planes and companies.  Not just how many kits each company has sold, or how many kits are flying, but what percentage of the kits sold are flying.  I called this the "completeability factor".  I was more interested in a company that had only sold 500 kits if 400 of them are flying and the last 100 just haven’t had time to be finished than I was with a company who had sold 2000 kits, but only 500 were flying.  I still think this is the biggest factor to consider.  Especially for the first time builder.  It is such a big project, you might as well get a kit with a good reputation.  We’ve all heard countless stories of unfinished projects.

Flying It Sold Me.  At this point I was down to two, an RV, or a Glassair.  Then I flew an RV-8, and that was all she wrote.  I’ve flown fighters for the Air Force for twenty years.  This airplane is the closest thing to a fighter I’ve ever flown that didn’t have a jet engine.  It was pure pleasure, and yes, I did have the “RV Grin” when I landed.

Which RV To Pick?  All that was left was the choice of which RV to build.  My wife isn’t into the weekend flying.  She is perfectly happy to go cross-country, but doesn’t want to “slip the surly bonds” on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  So I knew most of my flying would be solo.  With that in mind, I chose the tandem seating so I wouldn’t have the empty cockpit to my right interfering with my view of the world.  I chose the 8 over the 4 only because it is faster, climbs better, and has longer legs.  And I chose the RV-8 verses the 8A because tail wheels are cool and the 8 is faster.

Bottom line: Decide which features are a must, and find a kit with a high
completability factor that is in your price range.

For more information on other kit plane manufacturers, check out the
following reviews

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