When David Porter took his first flight in his RV-7 on Nov. 24, 2017, he probably didn’t know he was making history.
The Martinsburg, W.Va., pilot’s plane became the official 10,000th Van’s RV aircraft to transition from a collection of parts and take to the skies.
“We say ‘official’ because there are certainly more than 10,000 flying, but we don’t know about all of them,” say Van’s officials. “Many builders have taken to the air and, doubtless, the thrilling experience caused them to overlook alerting anyone at Van’s.”
Porter, who is the president of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1071, spent 3-1/2 years building his RV-7 from a standard kit. It’s the first airplane he has built.
Serial number 74311 (the 4311th RV-7/7A empennage kit sold) is the 1,662nd RV-7 to fly, according to company officials.
It’s fairly typically equipped for a modern RV, with a Lycoming O-360-A1A, Hartzell blended airfoil prop, GRT/Garmin VFR avionics and seats by Flightline Interiors, officials add.
An experienced CFI, but a relative newcomer to the RV world, he says he never considered building an airplane “until one day in late 2013 when I got a ride in the back seat of an RV-8. It was my first time in an RV, and I was amazed by the performance.”
“I immediately started running calculations about whether I could afford to build an RV,” he continued. “Before long, I ordered an empennage kit and sold the Piper Warrior I had owned for several years.”
According to company officials, Van’s Aircraft began to sell RV-3 plans back in 1973, so over the last 44 years a new RV has taken to the air every 1.6 days on average.
“No one is exactly sure when the 1,000th RV flew — best guess is around early 1994,” company officials said in a prepared release. “The 2,000 mark was passed in November 1998, 19 years ago. The increase from 9,000 flying RVs to 10,000 took just 33 months or under 1,000 days.”
About one new RV airplane leaves the ground each day, with 360 taking to the skies already in 2017.
“An interesting sidebar is that the shortest time taken to gain 1,000 flying RVs was from 6,000 to 7,000 in the 23 months leading up to October 2010,” company officials note. “At that time, three new RVs flew every two days.”
“If we step back and take a historical view of the RV phenomenon, we realize that RVs have been part of the aviation scene for over half of the personal aircraft era which began in the late 1920s,” said Dick VanGrunsven, founder and CEO. “Over that period RVs have morphed from interesting fringe area curiosities to GA mainstays. Credit is due both to the dedicated and talented staff at Van’s Aircraft and to the thousands of aviation enthusiasts who had faith in the perhaps understated performance and value of our traditional designs.”
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of the countless builders and pilots who have supported each other, and created a community that is now an aviation icon,” he continued. “Together, we have advanced the enjoyment and safety of personally built aircraft. On this strong foundation, I see no end in sight to the growth and energy the RV community is offering to GA.”
He added that company officials are looking forward to the next 10,000 taking flight.
“At current rates, that should take only about half as long as the first 10,000,” he said, adding that should be around 2040.
“We’re confident that Van’s will be there, and that plenty of RVs will still be delighting their owners, and taking new generations of builders into the sky,” he concluded.