The heart of the sheet metal production line is a number of CNC punches that change tooling
automatically and operate at a blinding speed while producing parts with holes that perfectly
match the adjoining pieces.
The final design is 2,700 pounds gross
with 1, 100 pounds’ useful load, as it sits. How
much of that load-carrying capability builders want to give up to fancy paint and heavy
interior and instrument panel is up to them.
The factory prototype meets all the design
goals and is a well-equipped VFR airplane.
As I slid into the right seat (after so many
years as a CFI, I wanted to be in my comfort
zone), I knew it was going to be interesting
to see how close Van’s came to matching its
Incidentally, the boarding procedure
reminded me how high the airplane has to
stand to clear that big prop and how nicely
the gull-wing doors get out of the way, making stepping down into the cockpit very easy.
Van’s Ken Scott prodded the 260 horses
of the IO-540 Lycoming into life (it can use
as little as 210 hp) and gave me the airplane.
I’ve never been a fan of castering nose
wheels because they often have imprecise
steering at low speeds, requiring a little
brake here and there. Right then I experienced the first of many surprises of the
flight: I had a hard time telling it didn’t have
nose wheel steering. It was much tighter
than I expected. I would have liked to taxi it
in a hard crosswind to see how it fared.
Lined up on the runway, I again thought
about the lack of nose wheel steering and
repositioned my feet on the rudders so I
could get a little right brake on the initial
part of the takeoff run, should the rudder not
be up to the task. The move was unneces-
sary. I purposely pushed the throttle in fairly
slowly and not once, even though the seat
back was pushing rather hard on my back-
side, did the rudder feel soft or let the nose
move sideways. In fact, even though the
takeoff roll was easy to control, the accelera-
tion was flat-out impressive. This thing
really gets with the program! You gotta love
1,200-1,300 fpm. Now that’s a cruise climb!
While all this was going on, I had a sizable
amount of boot in the right rudder canceling
out P-factor to keep the ball in the middle.
The instant I rolled into the first turn a
little voice in my mind exclaimed, “Wow! I
love this airplane!” The ailerons were light
and deliciously smooth, and I love smooth
ailerons. In fact, as soon as I was level at
6,000 feet, I started playing with the controls. And this is where I usually start
nit-picking an airplane to pieces. Every pilot
has his or her own tastes as to how an airplane should feel right at the hand/stick
interface. So, I’ll try not to color this with
my own tastes, even though the RV- 10 is
exactly the way I like an airplane to feel. I
First, there is no hint of system friction,
either in the air or on the ground. The liberal
use of ball bearings and pushrods makes the
control stick feel as if it is anchored in warm
molasses. Super smooth. Also, while in
flight, there isn’t a hint of slop in the controls. Almost all aircraft (not all, but most),
both certified and homebuilt, have just a bit
of a dead spot right at neutral where you can
move the controls slightly and nothing happens. This dead spot can be the result of
mechanical slop in the system or loose aerodynamics. Usually, it is both.
You often don’t notice that your favorite
airplane has a slight dead spot in the