I am a big fan of the experimental aircraft market. The innovation, creativity, and ingenuity displayed by the designers and builders of experimental aircraft are inspiring to contemplate and keep pushing general aviation in the right direction.
We live in an ever-changing world, and I feel that the experimental aircraft market continues to innovate in ways that the production aircraft market cannot. This is probably due to a combination of factors: more passionate engineers working with less bureaucracy and management oversight, differing and less onerous government regulations, and less of a need to cater to one specific group of flyers.
Some of the most successful experimental aircraft have been the Vans line of airplanes. Vans RV’s have a reputation for being superb airplanes, fun to fly and able to accommodate most any mission that the private pilot has these days. You can build a four seat family airplane, a little two-seater to go get lunch in, or an aerobatic machine that flies like a fighter jet you can keep in your hangar.
Like anything else, the Vans line begins with the original aircraft, the RV-1. It had long been thought that the original RV-1 was lost to the ages, but several years ago it was discovered sitting in a hangar somewhere. It was purchased, restored, and flown to EAA Oshkosh, where it was donated to the EAA . Now appreciative visitors like myself can glimpse a piece of aviation history suspended from the ceiling.
The RV-1 was not the first experimental aircraft, and it may not be the best experimental aircraft in any one category. But from its DNA has sprung the most successful line of home built airplanes the world has ever seen, airplanes which (it could be argued) surpass many production machines in terms of performance and joy to fly. Here’s to the generations of RVs past and the generations yet to come.