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Vac 01-07-2014 09:40 AM

Jan 14 Update
Minor updates to the syllabus posted. These are in red for easy reference. Current version may be viewed/downloaded here:


I've updated the grade books/sheets to reflect the tracks in the syllabus as well. I've included quite a bit of information there, with the intent of creating not only easily used documentation; but a reader's digest version of the syllabi as well. There are three grade books available for viewing and/or download: Transition, Instructor Upgrade and Advanced Top Off. No grade book is provided for the Recurrent track, since this is designed as a biennial flight review.

Transition/Advanced Transition grade sheets:

Instructor Upgrade grade sheets:

Advanced Top Off grade sheets:

Any one that would like any Word versions of the files, please drop a line; and, as always, any feedback is appreciated!

Happy New Year,


Vac 03-18-2014 06:23 AM

Update: Part 3 Added
I’ve added Part 3 to accompany the previous portions of the transition and upgrade syllabi. The new material begins on page 152. This is an entirely new part and contains techniques, procedures, all-weather operation and handling discussions (i.e., a transition training manual). A PDF version of all three parts is available here:

The new section (Part 3) is designed to provide some of the background to accompany the previous portions. The rationale for developing this information in this format is that in many cases, no suitable pilot’s handbook or reference text exists. The information is presented in a manner similar to a pilot’s operating handbook; but of necessity is generic in nature—each RV is unique.

There are also some changes in Parts 1 and 2. As with previous versions of the draft, these changes are in red for easy reference. The changes to Parts 1 and 2 are either editorial in nature or designed to reflect information now included in Part 3. As Part 3 is revised in the future, I’ll maintain the convention of utilizing red font to keep it simple to pick out any revised or added material.

The syllabi reference “confidence maneuvers” and “advanced handling.” These are the basic building blocks designed to teach energy management, maneuvering and handling skills. Portions of this may also be generically referred to as aerobatics (minus style points!), this is simply a matter of nomenclature. These syllabi are “maneuvers based” rather than “scenario based.” As I tried to cover the full spectrum of potential RV-type operations, not all maneuvers are appropriate for all pilots or all aircraft. Instructors and transitioning pilots are encouraged to simply consider applicable portions and ignore those not applicable, or desired, after critical review.

Like the previous portions, Part 3 is simply an academic exercise to demonstrate what’s in the “art of the doable”—hence my motivation for writing and sharing this draft in this forum for anyone who wishes to adopt it or any portions they may find suitable—again, after critical review.

Three important things:

First, none of this is intended to be a suitable substitute for proper flight instruction from a qualified instructor pilot; nor should any of this information supersede the designer's, manufacturer’s and/or builder’s recommendations.

Second, each RV is unique and although it’s possible to derive some generic “lessons learned” it’s necessary to properly explore the envelope in every airplane. Small differences in configuration or weight and balance can have significant impacts on performance and handling characteristics.

Third, I received patient help from folks a lot smarter than I am, several of whom are regular contributors to this forum, and owe them thanks. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank Doug for his tireless work keeping this resource viable for all of us.

Any inputs, criticism and discussion are always welcome. If you wish to have a Word version of the latest draft, just drop me a PM or e-mail—I’m happy to share or collaborate. I would like to make this better and more useful, so if you have any input, please contribute.

Fly safe,


Vac 04-07-2014 02:45 PM

Version 1.7
Version 1.7 of the draft syllabi/transition information manual is now available here:

Most changes are to the new Part 3 (transition information portion). There is some expanded discussion, reorganization and content correction as well as editorial changes. All changes are in red (save for deletions which aren't tracked) for easy reference.

As always, any input, correction or discussion is welcome. I'll be happy to supply a pdf version (4 meg file) or Word version (2 meg file) to anyone that wishes to have a copy--just drop an e-mail to the address in the previous post or a PM.

Fly safe,


Vac 07-06-2014 08:11 AM

Draft 1.8 On-Line
The draft syllabus/transition manual has been updated. Most changes are to Part 3, so here is a stand-alone link that can be used to access just that portion:

Revision highlights: icing discussion in All-weather Operations, optimum climb (Vz) and cruise techniques added to Normal Procedures, aircraft handling (maneuver descriptions) updated.

All revisions in red for reference.

Part 3 represents an attempt to compose a generic "how to fly a two-seat Lycoming powered RV" manual presented in a format similar to a pilot's operating handbook. I don't know if this has been attempted in the past, but with over 8000 airplanes flying, there is sufficient experience that developing this type of reference should be feasible with proper collaboration. Much of the information is culled from existing literature, including the RVator, builder's manuals, FAA publications, flight test, etc. The intent is to provide a baseline academic foundation to support transition and handling training. It can also form a "strawman" for individuals to adopt as a handbook after critical review and appropriate flight test in their airplanes.

As always, any comments, discussion or inputs are welcome. I'm confident that there are things that can either be corrected, improved or clarified. Regardless of your level of experience, every member of this forum familiar with RV-types or flying has something to offer. Please add any discussion to this thread, email or drop a PM.

If you have difficulty using the Google Docs link, drop a line and I'll be happy to send a Word or PDF version of the document.

Fly safe,


Vac 07-24-2014 08:04 AM

Version 1.8 Full Documention

With Oshkosh rapidly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to consolidate all of the current draft documentation for the Transition Training Syllabus/Program. Here's is a link to the full version of draft 1.8 (most current), which includes all three parts:

A link to just Part 3 (Techniques, Procedures and Handling Characteristics) is available here:

Here are the links to the current version of the grade books designed to document the different tracks of instruction:

Transition/Advanced Transition:

Instructor Upgrade:

Advanced Transition Only (Top Off):

No grade book is provided for the Flight Review track.

All changes from version 1.7 are in red for reference. Please keep in mind, much of the data in this document is generic in nature, based on Van's factory data and or flight test data obtained in my RV-4. Instructor Upgrade requirements in Part 1 are written to accommodate "alternative instructor" certification, should the EAB community chose to pursue such a venue in concert with the FAA. However, the instructor upgrade is available for anyone that might provide qualification training to a CFI (which is not required by FARs).

One of the purposes of this project was to provide a baseline program to instructors interested in obtaining a LODA. It is not, however, intended as a simple cut-and-paste for that purpose. Editing for individual application is required after critical review. Current policy regarding LODA issuance limits the types of training that can be conducted in EAB aircraft operated for that purpose and the draft syllabus contains tracks of instruction beyond the scope of current LODA authorization. Hopefully, these tracks can serve as a basis for further discussion regarding FAA EAB training policy at some point in the future as we work to improve the quality of training and test resources available for our community.

As always, helpful comments of any type from anyone are always welcome. Folks with ANY level of experience have something to offer, so just because your experience in RV's is limited or you haven't started flying your RV yet, you have a valuable perspective. If you are an instructor and currently considering offering transition training (i.e., obtaining a LODA), please drop a line and I'll be happy to provide a phone number if you would like to discuss any of this. If you are an experienced transition instructor or RV pilot and have an opportunity to review any portion of the draft, I would greatly appreciate your insight. I would like the draft to be as factually correct and error free as practical, but that can only happen with collaborative effort.

If you would like either a PDF or Word version of the document, please PM or e-mail.

Fly Safe,


AndyRV7 08-04-2014 02:14 PM

I've read over this thread a few times and seem to keep coming back. Can you please clear something up for me? What is the purpose of this project? I guess I am having trouble following along without knowing what the goal of the effort is or how it came about. Thanks! Andy

Vac 08-05-2014 08:37 AM

Hi Andy,

Great questions! Short answer: The purpose of the project is to collaboratively develop syllabi and training resources to support RV-type specific transition, advanced handling, recurrent and instructor training using the expertise and experience available within the RV community that will be available by web for the benefit of the community. The project started with the publication of AC 90-109 “Airmen Transition to Experimental or Unfamiliar Airplanes” and the programs are designed to meet the intent of the AC. The basic transition track is designed around the typical 5-hour insurance requirement. The goal is to show what's in the "art of the doable" to increase the quality of training resources available to the RV community in an effort to reduce mishaps.

The key word is “collaboratively”--that’s why I’m working in a fishbowl. I hope that if folks have something to offer, they chime in (think Wikipedia). The reality is that any “RVer” has something to offer, regardless of experience because none of this information is any good if it’s not correct, not useful or not communicated effectively. Some of the best feedback actually comes from some of the least experienced folks. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be assisted by folks a lot smarter than I am—i.e., I’m careful to vet the information to ensure that I’m not too far off the mark. I also realize that it’s fairly comprehensive and will be re-organized as it evolves; but that’s going to take some more time and effort.

How this all came to pass is the long answer…

Foremost, I enjoy working on this in my spare time. I’ve had a great aviation career and want to give something back. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from some excellent training and experience (not to mention some really patient instructors!) over the past 35 years of flying. I learned to fly in high school and started out as a civilian flight instructor and charter pilot while I was in college, then spent 23 years flying fighters in the Air Force and now I work for a major airline. I’m an active CFI as well. I’ve experienced a pretty good cross-section of different training programs as both a student and instructor and have actively managed safety, training and test programs and had the privilege of command during my military career.

Much of the information in the “syllabus” is all of the stuff I would have liked to have known when I bought my “new to me” RV-4 six years ago. I was very surprised that there wasn’t a comprehensive “how to” publication or set of resources on how to fly or test an RV type given the size and success of the fleet. There was quite a bit of good information, but you have to hunt for it. I couldn’t buy a King Schools course or find a Cessna Pilot Center that could check me out in an RV. There is a small pool of outstanding transition instructors available; but the geographic, time and expense reality is that not all RVers have access to quality training.

I spent the first 50 hours or so in my airplane gathering performance and handling quality data—the result was a pilot’s handbook that is available in the POH section of VAF if you are interested. I concluded at the end of that project that specific performance data is just that—limited to my airplane, yours is a bit different; and my charts are not your charts. But I also concluded that there is enough commonality that it’s practical to present much of the information more generically. The result is Part 3 of the “syllabus”—an attempt to put together a generic “how to fly an RV-type” publication; portions of which you can easily adopt to form the core of a pilot’s operating handbook. Eventually, I would like to present you with some test tools to help with test conduct, data gathering and reduction so that you can generate charts for your airplane that complement the generic “how to” information and expanded checklists.

Back in the 90’s, I was working on an RV-6 project and wrote my master’s thesis on “Comparative Safety Records of Amateur-built and Production Light Aircraft since 1977.” I bring this up because recent efforts at similar analysis have shown that things haven’t changed over time—folks still get into trouble during their initial operating experience (now defined as 8 hours) in EAB airplanes and, disproportionately, during maneuvering flight. What has changed since the mid 90’s is the success of the kit built industry and the number of airplanes and pilots added to the fleet, thus we (the EAB community) are now on the NTSB/FAA radar. The obvious answer to mitigate some of this risk is to improve the quality of training and test resources available to assist with transition and flight test.

You might note that I place quite a bit of emphasis on maneuvering and “maximum performance” flight, i.e., learning to operate the airplane throughout its entire operating envelope as well as dealing with the occasional excursion outside of the envelope. I’ve attempted to reduce handling qualities into usable rules of thumb. This isn’t an original concept—it’s the way we’ve trained inexperienced pilots to operate high-performance airplanes for years in the military and it’s worked quite well. Please don’t confuse this with advocating “military style” training for all pilots under all circumstances—that’s not the intent at all. The intent is to simply present some techniques that have proven to be effective. Individual instructors and upgrading pilots have to choose how much or little to explore. In my experience, these are simply some of the best techniques I’ve encountered for getting folks comfortable handling their airplanes during maneuvering flight. There are, no doubt, other techniques just as effective.

Hope that helps the discussion. As always, the floor is open for thoughts and comments.

Fly safe,


artrose 08-05-2014 11:53 AM

After reading, I can appreciate the work and effort involved in the production of these documents, yet I have a continuing failure to comprehend much of the reasoning , purpose, or need. I tend to equate this to the two workers who are told to dig a ditch scenerio. One worker, highly educated and methodical, requires a set of blue prints, a spec book, soil samples, and a lot of prep time before he begins work, and the other guy simply jumps in the ditch and starts digging. Both completed the ditch as instructed, and both are now considered competent, professional ditch diggers. We do have the understanding that there is no single path to success? Or do we?

scrollF4 08-06-2014 05:55 AM

Vac was a fellow instructor pilot in our days training German Air Force aircrews in the F-4 Phantom at Holloman AFB NM. His command and maintenance of our training syllabi gained recognition across Air Combat Command. This RV syllabus is REALLY comprehensive: in whole or in part, you should find well-structured lessons to whatever training you'd like to explore.

I think it's quite thorough and comprehensive. I have one big suggestion: please insert tables of contents at the beginning of the manual sections. Without it, I must hunt and peck to discover what exists in the document. TOC makes it ever more useful.

Vac 08-13-2014 02:39 PM

Version 1.9 Available with Table of Contents
Version 1.9 of the draft transition syllabus/training program is now available on google docs at this link:

This is the full version of the document and contains all three parts. A table of contents is now provided, but unfortunately the hyperlinks are not supported by the PDF viewer on Google Docs, so it is necessary to download the pdf version to enable the links. As always, please drop a note and I’ll be happy to provide either a Word or pdf version of the document. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Summary of Changes:

The briefing guides in Part 2 have been updated to reflect information in Part 3 and there are small additions throughout the document, including additional spiral dive discussion in appropriate sections. All changes/additions are in red. Deletions are not tracked. Other changes are simply formatting to support the interactive table of contents.

Appendix A has been added to this version and contains an example of a personal proficiency training program for pilots who have already transitioned to type. Unless dictated by FAR, all times are simply suggestions that may be adopted, modified or ignored as individual airman see fit. Like the various tasks in the syllabi, the list of “currencies” is inclusive, and not all tasks will apply to all pilots.

Fly safe,


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