First Look – Van's RV-14 Taildragger

RV-14

Kitplanes Magazine got a chance to fly the new RV-14 from Van's this week - less than a week after its return from a debut performance at AirVenture 2015. Editor in Chief Paul Dye spent a couple of hours bopping around northwestern Oregon with factory pilot Mike Seager, and reports that the airplane's handling has improved over the original tricycle gear version he flew in 2012, and that the taildragger option will please many who are comfortable with the little wheel in back, especially those who frequent rough fields that have never seen a roller or a paving machine. Equipped with the slightly smaller IO-360 instead of the IO-390 installed in the original plane, factory pilots have reported that the speeds are comparable – or even better than – the tricycle gear version. This is great news for builders who have stashed away an angle-valve engine from their old Arrow or Mooney and have just been waiting to give it a fresh overhaul and hang it on their RV.

Interesting work has been done on the trailing edges of the elevators and ailerons since the initial release of the RV-14A, and control forces are now quite harmonious between pitch and roll. Dye worked his way from standard rate turns to steep turns, into wing-overs, and on through a few barrel rolls, and is pleased with the way it handles. It’s not as nimble as the lighter, earlier RV’s, but the smooth, solid feel reminds him of a nice touring car – fun enough to be out of the normal range of sedans, yet beefy enough to load up and take all the way across the continent in room and comfort.

RV-14 Panel

The airplane is well behaved in the stall, either power off, power on, and accelerated – and full-rudder slips to landing were natural and easily accomplished. Dye and Seager romped across the Willamette Valley of Orgeon, dropping in to long paved runways and short grass strips with trees guarding the approach – and the airplane handled them all with grace and aplomb – and not a little fun.

Overall, we think that this evolution of the RV-14 design is going to be a welcome addition to the line, and we’ll be printing a full report in an upcoming issue of Kitplanes Magazine!

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