weekends there, teaching flying. I discovered tailwheel flying in a Luscombe and eventually bought a
One of my Scappoose students, Kefton “Blackie”
Black, showed up at our Saturday coffee klatch one
morning in 1982 all fired up. He was going to make a
short hop over the hill to North Plains (then home of
the fledgling Van’s Aircraft) and look at this hot new
homebuilt—something called an RV- 4. I went with
him, just to see what he was so excited about.
About a year and a half later, Blackie’s RV- 4 was
ready to fly. Because I was an instructor and had quite
a bit of tailwheel time, I was the obvious candidate to
fly it. After a lot of taxi time and many hours of mental preparation, I made the first flight. It went okay.
JUST “OKAY”? CAN YOU ELABORATE A BIT?
MIKE WELL, THE RV- 4 was faster than the trainers
I had been flying, and the controls were lighter and
much more responsive. However, its landing speed
was just a bit higher than my Cessna 140, and the
landing gear was springy like my 140. It was just a
matter of adjusting to the differences. I became confident in it and then gave Blackie some back-seat time
before he went solo in it. The RV- 4 does not have full
dual controls in back, so I couldn’t give him proper
About that time, Van introduced the side-by-side
RV- 6, and I was one of the first to build and fly one.
With the side-by-side airplane available, transitioning
pilots into the RV became practical. I soon became
known around the area as the instructor to see if you
were building an RV. When the RV- 6 came out, RV
sales really took off, and I was getting a lot of calls. I
did some training in my own airplane, even though I
couldn’t charge for it, and did some more in the customer’s airplanes.
Of course, I’d gotten to know Van and we had
some long talks about pilot training, accidents, and
what we could do to improve the situation. We put
together a formal program and made it available to
the RV community. It was a pretty serious commitment for both of us.
I’M A BIT CONFUSED HERE. YOU JUST SAID THAT YOU
COULDN’T CHARGE FOR USING YOUR RV- 6 AS A TRAINER.
HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO DO SO NOW?
MIKE I COULDN’T USE my airplane for training
because it was amateur-built. But kit companies were
growing into real businesses, and their prototype and
demonstrator models could not really be certificated
as amateur-built anymore. They were able to work
with the FAA and certificate their “factory” aircraft in
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