Vanpalooza!

Richard VanGrunsven at AirVenture Monday. That's Ernie Butcher in the background.

Opening day at AirVenture was a day fans of the popular Van’s series of kitbuilt aircraft will remember. In the afternoon airshow, a cavalcade of Van’s aircraft, dating from current designs to the original RV-1 did a fly-by and then taxied in to the main square for a formal ceremony in which the key to the RV-1 was handed over to EAA’s Rod Hightower by Van’s founder Richard “Van” VanGrunsven so that the airplane could be inducted into the EAA Museum.

VanGrunsven, who at one point in the ceremony introduced his young granddaughter, clothed in an orange flightsuit dug out from mothballs for the occasion, expressed his hope that the RV-1 would be kept in working condition so that he could come back and fly it next year.

Van added that flying in the formation today, and seeing all of his designs ahead of him, was an emotional experience, and that his goal had always been to create a useful, safe, enjoyable aircraft. With several thousand flying today, he appears to have achieved that goal.

He also thanked the large community of “Friends of the RV-1” for making restoration of the original Van’s design possible. Ernie Butcher also commended all of the help the organization had received from volunteers around the country, both as the plane was made airworthy and as it toured the country prior to arriving in Oshkosh.

The new Van's RV-14.

The icing on the cake was the appearance of a new design, the RV-14. A two-seat side-by-side design powered by an IO-390. The plane went unmentioned by Van, but was described by Ken Scott as a “two-seat RV-10 with aerobatic capability.” It should also be easier to build, Scott said, as, for example, the canopy will be much simpler with the company doing more of the manufacturing. Van’s is taking orders for the first subkits for the -14, which should begin delivery in September.

We’ll have more on the RV-14 later. For more information, visit www.vansaircraft.com.

KITPLANES Editor Mary Bernard began her career in aviation journalism in 1998 and has worked in publishing for more than 15 years.

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