Vans Aircraft

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Phillip - I just started my PPL training and I came across your website. I must say, it's a
wonderful wealth of information.

I want to get your input on the RV-7 experimental aircraft from Vans. I live in the NorCal
Bay Area (Livermore) area and I would like to eventually buy a single for trips to SoCal,
Vegas and Washington State. The primary use for the A/C will be for business but my
appointments are flexible so known icing should not be much of a factor. Flights to Baja
and the Caribbean (for fun) also interest me. Also, Lake Tahoe with the high altitudes and
DA in the summer would be nice.

My current instructor loves the Cirrus but I've heard/read some concerning safety issues. I
know that its more of an airplane than a 172 so there is more tendency for mistakes to
become problems and that will be a factor in any higher performing plane. Looking at the
performance of the RV-7, it looks like its hard to beat. The cost/performance seems
unmatched by the 182/SR22/DA40 crowd. If I go the Vans route, I plan to buy a built
plane. What is your input on the safety and security of buying a homebuilt plane and do
you have any overall observations on the Vans series of aircraft in general?

Thanks,, James from CA

-- James King, January 6, 2009


Sorry for the late response... I have almost no experience with experimental aircraft. Experimental airplanes often compromise low-speed handling and other elements that make for a forgiving machine in order to get higher cruise speed numbers and lower fuel burn. If you chopped half the wings off a C172 you would get much better cruise performance, but that doesn't mean it would be a better airplane all-around.

Certified airplanes are also good if you're going to do a lot of traveling because mechanics know how to work on them.

-- Philip Greenspun, March 5, 2009