s I walked up to the yellow and white
RV- 10 parked on the Van’s Aircraft company ramp in Aurora, Oregon, my mind
went back to August of 1973. I had just landed after flying the
very first RV- 3, the 125-hp prototype. As I visually inspected the
RV- 10, I remembered what I wrote in the opening paragraph of
the RV- 3 pilot report: “Climbing out of the cockpit after the first
flight it struck me how incredibly far the art of homebuilding
has progressed….” Unbelievably, that was 38 years ago. Would
the “wow factor” that RVs always seem to excite be there again
when I climbed out of the four-place RV- 10?
Before going any further, it’s important to define “four-place
aircraft.” There’s a huge difference between a “four-place aircraft” and an “aircraft that carries four people.” The certified
market is rife with aircraft that have four seats, but they force
you to make a choice: To stay under gross weight, you must leave
a seat or two empty or off-load fuel. There are very few certified
aircraft that will let you fill all four seats with real people (FAA
standard is 170 pounds each), fill the tanks, and still have room
When laying out the initial RV- 10 design, Van’s
design goals were very clear and not to be violated:
■ Four full-size people (680 pounds).
■ Enough fuel to be useful ( 60 gallons—360 pounds).
■ Baggage for all four people ( 60 pounds’ total).
■ Cruise speed that would be comparable to the
certified competition (190-200 mph).
■ Takeoff and climb performance that would make short
runways feel longer.
■ Landing speeds/distances compatible with sport-type,
unimproved runways (650 feet at gross).
■ Handling characteristics that match the traditional
Van’s profile: easy for low-timers to fly and sporty.