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Vac 11-30-2012 08:14 AM

Transition Training Syllabus

I'm re-posting the link to the draft transition training syllabus for anyone that is interested:

Here is the link to the grade sheets that accompany the syllabus:

Additionally, if there is anyone in the Florida Panhandle or Memphis TN areas that would like to get together to have an informal discussion about syllabus development or simply talk RV training, testing or safety, I'd be happy to make arrangements to get together as the schedule allows. I would still like to tweak the syllabus to ensure that it not only meets baseline requirements but also includes sufficient "differences" training that it mirrors a typical, FAA recognized program--as currently written, it's largely generic (or RV-4 specific). Ideally, it would include input from instructors versed in each type (i.e., -6, -7, -8, -9). Additionally, consideration needs to be given to the LSA folks (-12) and the "big iron" (-10 and now -14). In a perfect world, we would establish a working group with the appropriate folks to develop training materials.

Big Picture Points to Ponder:

Type Club. One of the challenges that the RV community currently faces is its own diversity. Unscientific analysis shows there are more RV's flying than all other homebuilt types combined, with more showing up on the registry at a good rate. Other types have already established clubs and even formal, insurance industry recognized training programs. Owing to the large size and diversity of the RV community, there is no one, central "belly button" (if you will) that an organization like the FAA, EAA, etc. can address when attempting to coordinate effort or establish standards, etc. A type club could take on development of training materials and aids, instructor validation (perhaps allowing a non-traditional approach to instructor qualification that would open the door to experienced folks that may not hold a current CFI), test materials to assist with phase I and oversee community-based safety improvement efforts (e.g., active Safety blog and perhaps, a "Hi, I'm Mike and here's what I screwed up..." self-squawk program, etc.). This may also serve as a venue for formal insurance industry recognition.

Training Device. One possible solution to training would be development of a representative simulator. Even a very basic training device would go a long way to allowing folks to a relatively inexpensive means to improve the quality of training. Red Bird simulators have capitalized on the profusion of technology and begun building affordable simulators for different classes of aircraft--imagine an "RV" sim where an instructor could flip between -4 and -8; or -6, -7, -9 or -14? Add some of the nifty capability of their "cross wind" trainer and you'd have a very useful tool for training, regardless of FAA designation. Due to the fact that a "standard" configuration RV of any type simply does not exist, this generic approach could prove to be as effective as using a surrogate trainer.

To summarize, it may be time to consider formation of a "type" club to coordinate safety, training and test assistance efforts for the RV community. Additionally, development of appropriate training and test materials will take some work and active participation of the instructors and experienced pilots within the community. Lastly, the next step may be development of a suitable training device.

There is quite a bit of talent resident within the RV community, and I'm confident, this is all in the art of the doable.

Fly Safe,


Mike Vaccaro
vacntess99 AT yahoo DOT com

P.S. Doug, any chance we might keep this discussion in the "yellow sticky" section?

SHIPCHIEF 12-01-2012 10:52 AM

If your mission is to reduce accidents on first flights, qualification requirements to take the course negate the mission.
Tailwheel recency, and minimum previous aircraft horsepower experience, guarantee the people most in need of this training won't qualify for it.
I gave the draft proposal A straight thru read when it was posted several months ago. I have a few hundred hours of tail wheel time and fly an O-290 powered Thorp T-18. Yet, I don't think I qualify to take the course?
Jerry VanGrunsven encouraged me and my CFII wife to take Seger's course, and I came away feeling this currently is a Big Tent 'everyone is welcome' experience. The draft proposal is very officious and comes across in a negative way, not in alignment with many home builders character and experience.
I am I favor of training. The long time builder with little recent flight time needs an inexpensive and welcoming training experience, not an overpriced simulator and military regimen.

Chris Hill 12-01-2012 10:39 PM

I like the idea and most of the content of this lesson plan. Its completion is almost certain to make any pilot a better rvator. I have a few more thoughts on military style training, which naturally has positives and negatives associated with it, that I will post later.

I agree with ship that your reqs should be changed to "recommend prior to" instead of "will have prior to."

My only concern with generating this syllabus for insurance is that in stead of being a "nice to have" prior to rv flying, it becomes a "must have." given the current state of general aviation (read that as dying state), adding another cost barrier to flying will only serve to further cripple our hobby.

Nice job putting it together though.

Vac 12-02-2012 07:18 AM

I apologize up front--I only reposted the draft so that folks would have access to the links. The real purpose of the post was to discuss the merits of a type club and the use of a simulator as an inexpensive means to improve the quality of training (or help folks maintain some semblance of currency that are currently on a "flying pause" to build, etc.)!

To elaborate a bit on the syllabus:

None of this is designed to be exclusionary--the objective is to get more pilots better training, increase the RV pilot population and help improve safety. It may seem intimidating at first glance, but it's actually straight forward. No one that wants to succeed and can pass a biennial flight review will ever "wash out" of this (or any other effective GA) program. It is a military style syllabus only because that is what I am most familiar with, and is also very similar to an airline syllabus. It would be what's required for a 141 civilian program as well. I originally put this together as an academic exercise to assist with my own RV transition and realized that it might help instructors that are seeking a LODA by eliminating some typing. The only other published syllabus I'm familiar with is the one posted on Van's site. The syllabus is only a draft and not intended, in any way, to be a "regulation" or "instruction" or form the basis of such.

The "requirements" are only designed to ensure a reasonable chance that the syllabus can be executed in the 5 hours allotted (4 1.25 hour flights)--for example, if a pilot requires a tail wheel check-out or hasn't flown in a long period of time, more than five hours will, likely, be required to accomplish a check-out. The "requirements" are not hard and fast, simply a starting point and can be adjusted to suit all circumstances. The five hours was chosen as a target, since that is a typical insurance-driven requirement, however each carrier will vary. Anything specified by the carrier is a real, minimum requirement and acceptable performance is at the discretion of the instructor.

All of the objective standards are right from the private pilot practical test standards with the exception of a chandelle, lazy eight and steep spiral, those are from the commercial test standards. These maneuvers, along with any aerobatics, are simply optional. The baseline syllabus includes ground operations, takeoff/landing (airport operations, the "4 basics" (straight and level, turns, climbs and descents), slow flight, and stalls in addition to RV-specific academics and emergency procedures, that's it. It's just when you lay that out in detailed form, it starts to look like a lot of stuff. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even include specific "differences" training (i.e., in the eyes of the FAA an RV-6 is not an RV-7, therefore if a pilot were trained in a -6, "differences" training would address the transition to the -7)--such is an "offical" read; which is important since we pilots really need to understand the FAA/NTSB perspective if we are going to effectively engage to maintain our experimenting privileges.

All advanced maneuvers in the syllabus are simply optional, and need only be performed for familiarization purposes when and if an upgrading pilot wants exposure. Aerobatic instruction in an RV is problematic, largely based on payload restrictions. I'm not very big (5'7" and 145), so with the right student, in most RV's with proper fuel load, aerobatic instruction and upset recovery are practical; but for many (if not most) folks it's not practical or may be restricted by insurance coverage or other circumstances.

I'm very concerned about the shrinking pilot population, and having an affordable means to fly; so my contribution is flight instruction (I keep a current CFII/ME), helping folks with flight test and efforts like this to assist with improving safety in the RV community. I'd be happy to help any RV'er that calls or writes, any time!

Again, I'm sorry if I obfiscated any of this in the original post--wasn't my intent!

Fly Safe,


Chris Hill 12-02-2012 09:37 AM

I did another read through, and with both a civilian and military background, I really like the draft product with a few minor exceptions.

My thoughts on military style training in a civilian has a few negatives which of course are dependent on the instructor, but are also dependent upon the syllabus. For people who have an option in the type of training they receive, mil style training can be intimidating and make them shy away from an otherwise very good training program. That same intimidation can also add unnecessary stress to an already stressful event such as learning to fly a new experimental aircraft. Then there are colloquial military terms which can add confusion in the civilian environment. I think all of these can be mitigated through how the syllabus is worded and presented.

Positives to military style training are that it lets you know exactly how you are performing with a well-defined grading scale. If you have a weak area, you?ll find out what it is. It also provides a clear path for progression/completion. Most importantly, and as your draft indicates, it is very thorough. (The positive list looks shorter, but positives generally dont require and discussion since no one complains about the good things. The reality is that there are many benefits to structured training)

A couple of changes I would make to get this to be more inviting are how you present the pre-reqs and how the training is broken up. It might be helpful to ID minimum recommended flight maneuvers, optional confidence maneuvers, optional aerobatics (which you have done to a certain extent, but I dont think its really clear what the minimum transition training is for a new pilot).

I think the most significant pushback you will recieve on this program is how it defines what a pilot should be able to do. Many experienced civilian pilots are going to think, "I already know how to fly, and I have a bunch of tailwheel time, why do I need to do this extra junk?" I think defining those minumum familiarization items would go a long ways toward selling the program to those guys.

Really nice product though. I would recommend it as reading for new and old RVers alike. If you are a new RVer, the training and maneuvers cover most everything you would want to do in an RV.

Bayou Bert 12-02-2012 11:32 AM

How to Copy and Print
Or that is not being done yet?

How about us getting ready to make the transition from
C150/152/172's to RV9A's or tri gear?
Something extra to do during transition training with transition instructor?


TEAMDK 12-03-2012 12:04 PM

Transition Training East of the Mississippi
Local pilot friend here in Western Pennsylvania has recently purchased a flying RV-9A and most of his recent experience has been in an Aircoupe. Is there anyone we can recommend for transition training located near the Ohio Valley or at leasr East of the Mississippi River?


Dave/Kathy "TEAMDK"
RV-8 flying for over 7 years

BobTurner 12-03-2012 01:35 PM

A different view
I have been watching this thread, and thought I'd post my two cents, as an RV-10 builder and CFI who jumped thru the FAA hoops to get a waiver (LODA) to do transition training.

"a welcoming experience". Of course this is true. I think pilot-trainees sometimes forget that they are the employer. If you do not like the training you are getting, fire the CFI and find someone else.

"it will become a 'must have'". I think we are already there. Insurance companies are now pretty much insisting on some type of training for all pilots with no prior time in type.

"inexpensive". This reminds me of Walt Disney's first law, "Wishing will make it so.". I suspect most people do not realize that much of the cost is now being driven by insurance. I gave 5 hours of dual to a local pilot. He calculated that the convenience of local training (no airfare, motel, rental car) was worth enough to him that he paid the cost of putting him on my insurance - $500. That is not a typo, he paid $100 per hour just for insurance.

"something extra to do" FSDOs vary a lot, but mine has held me to a strict interpretation of my waiver (LODA). I cannot offer anything but transition trainning in my -10. Anything that could be done in a certified aircraft is not allowed. No high performance endorsements, no flight reviews, no IPCs. I understand the FAAs logic, but this does limit instruction opportunities and therefore increases the average cost per hour.

"prerequisites". Everyone hates hard numbers. 200 HP needs nothing, but 201 HP needs a high performance endorsement. So who wants them? 1. My insurance company. The more relaxed the numbers, the more it costs. 2. FSDO asked me to specify prerequisites on my LODA application. 3. Me. This is my airplane, that I spent 4 years building. Before I let a complete stranger handle the controls I want some assurance that he/she will not abuse the prop control. I have to trust that they will not abuse the brakes (I can try to overpower them on the stick, but cannot 'unbrake' if they lock up a wheel.).

I am happy to see the OP make this effort, because I see this idea as something insurance companies like. And I think getting reasonable insurance coverage is the key to lowering the costs, which in turn is the key to getting more pilots to participate.

Sorry this is so long.


dmaib 12-03-2012 03:16 PM


Originally Posted by BobTurner (Post 721891)
I have been watching this thread, and thought I'd post my two cents, as an RV-10 builder and CFI who jumped thru the FAA hoops to get a waiver (LODA) to do transition training.

"a welcoming experience". Of course this is true. I think pilot-trainees sometimes forget that they are the employer. If you do not like the training you are getting, fire the CFI and find someone else.

"it will become a 'must have'". I think we are already there. Insurance companies are now pretty much insisting on some type of training for all pilots with no prior time in type.

Totally agree!


Originally Posted by BobTurner (Post 721891)
"something extra to do" FSDOs vary a lot, but mine has held me to a strict interpretation of my waiver (LODA). I cannot offer anything but transition trainning in my -10. Anything that could be done in a certified aircraft is not allowed. No high performance endorsements, no flight reviews, no IPCs. I understand the FAAs logic, but this does limit instruction opportunities and therefore increases the average cost per hour.

My FSDO is adamant about this, as well.

Vac 12-05-2012 03:58 PM

Previous Discussion Link
Link to the previous discussion, this topic:

panhandler1956 12-05-2012 04:57 PM

Good stuff Vac!

Vac 01-31-2013 11:36 AM

Syllabus Revision 1.3
I’ve completed a major revision to the Draft transition training syllabus. Since I’ve received quite a bit of helpful feedback from the forum, I’ve attempted to incorporate that. The bottom line up front is that I used the baseline syllabus to develop different tracks of training: basic, advanced, instructor and recurrent. This is practical since the objective of the syllabus is to provide quality RV type transition training and it’s possible to tweak the basic flow to accommodate different training requirements.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet finished part 3, an instructor standardization guide; but I did include flight elements through takeoff so that you can get an idea of the information that will be included in that section. Due to the method in which it is constructed, there is some redundancy; and keep in mind that it’s primarily intended for instructor’s use, but I did include upgrading pilot considerations. As a trainee, I’ve always found it helpful to read the instructor’s materials as well.

All of the changes to Parts 1 and 2 are in red. A couple of caveats: there are still some incomplete tables and references and I’ve likely still left a few embedded errors. I’ve attempted to remove any military jargon but likely I can’t see the forest through the trees and there may still be some left…this continues to be a work in progress. Although it may not yet be ready for prime time, all of the input and discussion has been extremely helpful in developing the syllabus; so I’ve decided to post the revised draft in hopes of garnering more helpful input.

The revised draft may be found here:

Points to Ponder:

Differences Training. The FAA uses the term “differences training” to accommodate different derivative aircraft of a design series. For example, a “C” model vs. an “A” model, or a -10 vs. a -90, etc. In a perfect world, a conforming trainer would be available for each RV type. If you wanted an RV-7A check-out, you would receive training in a similarly configured RV-7A. Unfortunately, the number of trainers available is limited and unless a fleet of conforming factory demonstrators of each type were to be constructed, it is fairly safe to assume no two RV aircraft are identical. Therefore, the de facto state of affairs is that we are using surrogate trainers to a certain extent. This is why I’ve chosen to draft an “RV type” syllabus that can be tweaked to accommodate individual circumstances. I do not know how practical it would be to develop separate syllabi for each mark of RV.

LODA Restrictions. These restrictions generally limit the type and amount of training that can be conducted. For example, a typical LODA will limit training to transition only. This would preclude use of the aircraft for biennial flight review, building time in type etc. Hopefully, the folks that are crafting policy are looking at regulatory "square corners" like this and realize that consideration need be given to including a full spectrum of instruction in type if we are going to improve the overall quality of training available to folks operating EAB aircraft. Individual LODA restrictions define the type of training that can be conducted and the draft syllabus may contain tracks of instruction that are unsuitable for consideration under the LODA process as it currently implemented.

Instructor Upgrade. Holding a CFI/I/ME, ATP etc. does not correlate to proficiency instructing in RV type aircraft. Some degree of “instructing the instructor” is required in any airplane, otherwise the instructor’s learning curve will be funded with the student’s money or, worse, a dangerous situation develops due to lack of instructor familiarity. Additionally, there is a cadre of folks with extensive RV time that may make excellent transition trainers but may lack a current CFI. One thing that policy makers may consider would be adaptation of a formal course of standardization training and certification by a type club (etc.) of instructors. I crafted the prerequisites for instructor upgrade with both of these cases in mind. Of note, anyone instructing in any capacity still requires sufficient background that they understand the basics of how folks learn, lesson plan development, etc.

Basic vs. Advanced Instruction. The basic and advanced track each last five hours. The requirements are different, and entry into the advanced track requires a more proficient upgrading pilot, thus it should be practical to include more in the syllabus. I fully realize that the conduct of full up aerobatic flight in any RV can be problematic based on load. I also realize that individual insurance policies may, in fact, preclude the conduct of that type of maneuvering; but I still think it’s important to address all-attitude flying in a controlled learning environment so I will continue to include it. Also, I created an “advanced top-off” track for folks who complete basic transition, but want to come back and increase their skill after they have some experience in type.

Recurrent Training. This is straight-forward and is simply a biennial designed for use in RV types.

Bottom Line. The syllabus is designed to be adopted to suit individual requirements and backgrounds. It isn’t designed to be exclusionary. Objective standards make things pretty straight forward for the upgrading pilot (he knows what’s expected) and the instructor (he knows where the bar is set). They are, in no case, more restrictive than standards contained in the appropriate FAA practical test standards and in some cases (e.g., all attitude maneuvering) limited to “safe” performance.

Please keep the inputs and discussion flowing--collaboration is more effective than just one guy typing! If you would like a Word version of the current draft, please drop a line.

Fly safe,


JordanGrant 04-08-2013 10:41 PM

Putting it to use
I'm planning on checking out a buddy of mine in my RV-6. He has extensive GA experience (grew up flying his dad's 182), owns and flies a Mooney, and is also an experienced F-16 pilot. But he has zero experience in RVs and does not have a tailwheel endorsement, so I think he could be a good test case the syllabus. Anyway, I'm going to try applying the TR syllabus to him and see how it goes. I'll let you know.

BTW, I'm very interested in seeing Part 3 continue to develop, especially the landing techniques section. I know how I land the airplane after 300 hrs or so, but I'm not so sure it's the best way to teach a new RV pilot. I like the idea of a standardized technique (or set of techniques) to apply.


Vac 04-11-2013 05:32 AM


Send any feedback after you guys have flown/validated the TR portion. Any IPUG considerations (from your viewpoint) are welcomed as well. I'll send you a more current draft of Part 3. Drop me an e-mail address.



Vac 05-29-2013 10:20 AM

Version 1.4
Syllabi updated. Version 1.4 available for review/down-load at this link:

Changes in red for reference. Changes primarily regarding advanced handling/post-stall maneuvering.

Fly Safe,


Geeman 05-29-2013 08:34 PM

File share
I was unable to open on my iPad.

Could you email me the file to Thanks. I have about 100 hours in my rv-6 and got my instruction from my Cfii dad and Cfii brother and neither one of them had flown an rv much at all. I'm interested if they trained me correctly and thoroughly. I'm all about improving my skills. :D

Vac 05-30-2013 06:19 AM


Check your e-mail. I've had the same trouble when trying to open google docs on the I pad--wonder if I've got something screwed up in the "share" settings???

Don't see how you could do any better than a dad and a brother checking you out...Sounds like you're doing great!

Fly safe,


dcl 05-30-2013 07:03 AM

Opening pdf
If you have trouble opening the pdf on your PC then:
1) Open the web page
2) Go to the FILE menu (top left hand corner of the page, not Internet Explorer menus)
3) Last option there is download, click that and either save to disk or open.

Ipad is smart enough to just open. If stuck go to the bottom of the screen. There are two options "view in mobile/ desktop" and select view in mobile

Hope this helps

Geeman 05-30-2013 04:44 PM

Got it.

This is very thorough. I'm going to study it and make sure I'm comfortable with the vast majority of it. Maybe not so much the acro but everything else looks like a good training for anyone....even some of the seasoned guys.

Thanks again. I can tell you spent a lot of time on it.

Where are you based. I'm in destin all week on vacation. I come here routinely during the summer. Flown into Defuniack springs a few times.

Take care.

Vac 05-31-2013 04:47 AM

Hi Kyle,

Check you PMs and enjoy Destin!



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,


BobTurner 08-13-2014 04:25 PM


Originally Posted by artrose (Post 904260)
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?

If you were asked to insure the ditch diggers, would you quote the same rate for both?
One future hope is that a well documented training format might lead to lower insurance rates. Some of the "type" clubs have had some success with this.

artrose 08-14-2014 09:04 AM

I would insure at the same rate. Both are competent and professional. Perhaps a more relevant question might be to ask which ditch digger would you hire. Would you choose the guy who carries the high overhead, or hire the innovative no nonsense other guy. Add enough complexity and weight to the foundation and the building will eventually collapse. I'd suggest it's time to open a dialog with the intent to influence and hopefully change some misguided thought processes, rather than to intensify and further complicate an already overwhelming, complicated, and self consuming system. Over the course of many years we have allowed the unchecked growth of a regulatory system that has literally begun to eat it's own. Additional regulation and complexity in an attempt to satisfy involved parties will not resolve the many issues that have caused the massive decline in General Aviation. Simplification and revision would be a start in the right direction, otherwise, it's over. Ask yourself the question as to why so many have left the Certified ranks and moved to Experimental. The answer should be obvious.

Vac 08-14-2014 02:53 PM


Foremost, my intent sharing this work (which is no different than sharing the details of a build) is not to increase the complexity, regulation or cost of EAB activity; in fact, it’s just the opposite. I am gravely concerned about the future of GA activity and erosion of flying privileges and opportunities in this country. EAB activity is a bright spot, and it is my hope that our community continues to grow and thrive. Secondly, I’m a firm believer in the KISS principle—it is actually driving much of the development of these materials, none of which are new or different--simply consolidated. Third, it’s no more than we are currently doing in transition training if you examine the different tracks and information presented. Fourth, one of the underlying purposes of this project is to postulate an acceptable means of alternate instructor certification, easing the requirements for providing quality instruction to a larger group of folks. It is also designed to help eliminate some current LODA restrictions, expanding the capabilities of folks conducting type specific training using EAB aircraft. It is comprehensive, but not all parts are designed for all folks or circumstances.

Flying will never be devoid of the requirement for training and experience. That requirement isn’t driven by regulation; it’s driven by an inherent need of the endeavor. One point to ponder is the “requirement” for type specific training--the only existing “requirement” is driven by the insurance industry (typically five hours). There is no regulatory requirement for type specific training for airplanes weighing less than 12,500 lbs and I am not an advocate of such a regulatory requirement.

Some experienced pilots can, no doubt, quite successfully strap on an RV-type and fly, teaching themselves to comfortably and safely operate the airplane throughout the entire envelope. I do know that after 35 years of experience, lots of flying time in many different types of airplanes and some of the best civilian, government and airline training available, as well as quite a bit of instructor experience, I’m not that pilot—as I said previously, it’s all of the information I would have liked to have access to when I was learning to fly my RV-4. It is simply my attempt to share what I’ve learned and give something back to my community. Any recommended “standards” are based on existing Practical Test Standards or current industry practice.

As humans, what we learn at the core of our flight training (the law of primacy) will be the skill set that our flying is based on whether we do it for fun or professionally. Aviation is inherently unforgiving of error. A basic core skill set can be quite effective for saving us from ourselves as we endeavor to become old pilots. Pilots have debated for years what the breadth of that core skill set should be and I have presented a broad spectrum of potential skills, all or part of which can be adapted to RV-types. It will always be incumbent upon the individual airman (pilot, instructor or mentor) to use judgment in deciding what to explore and what is appropriate, i.e., individual choice and freedom.


Mike Vaccaro

Vac 09-09-2014 08:37 AM

Draft Version 2.0 Posted
Version 2.0 has been posted. Here is a link to the complete document:

Brief Summary of Changes:

Numerous editorial changes throughout, primarily in Part 1. Added landing currency requirement for basic track. Updated instructor track objective standards to conform to commercial pilot PTS. Removed reference to indicated airspeed and replaced with calibrated airspeed throughout the document. Added example of stabilized approach criteria. Added basic IMC (single pilot) considerations and expanded rough air operational considerations in the All Weather Operations section in Part 3. Standardized definition of ?unload? (0-1/2 G) throughout all portions of the document. Updated table of contents. Added hyperlinks throughout the document to make navigation easier. All changes are in red for reference, deletions aren?t tracked.


I goofed up when I made the transition from the previous draft version to the current draft version when I saved the file, so there may be a few changes from the previous version (1.9 Dated 12 August 2014) still in red that slipped through this edit. It is necessary to download the PDF version of the document from Google Docs to enable hyperlinks.

Creating hyperlinks is an ?old dog/new tricks? endeavor, so I?ll continue to improve the links and organization as time (and ability!) permit. Hopefully those included thus far (including the table of contents) work as intended. If you would like a PDF or Word version of the current draft, just drop a PM or e-mail and I will forward a copy.

As always, inputs/suggestions and corrections are welcome, either by PM, e-mail or post in this thread.

Fly safe,


crabandy 10-08-2014 10:19 PM

I really appreciate your work and dedication on this subject, today I reread the portion on lazy8's , spins, low AOA ballistic recovery, inverted low AOA ballistic recovery and low AOA slow rolls. I made some shorthand notes and went out and flew the maneuvers.
I was a little nervous on the first couple maneuvers, but everything felt familiar. My Aerobatic instructor must have done a good job on my first and only aero lesson as far as basic aircraft control is concerned. I never really correlated (levels of learning from FOI-RUAC) what I've learned and what I've read until after reading and flying your syllabus. I really need to up my perspective, Apparently my feet on the horizon isn't 25* I need to double it!!
Following the syllabus reinforced my training and I followed up with aileron rolls, barrel rolls and loops for 25 minutes. I'm so ready for another aerobatic lesson and finish the syllabus. I'm looking forward to learning the rest of the "Gentleman's Aerobatics!"

Vac 11-22-2014 12:18 PM

Draft Version 2.1 Posted
Version 2.1 of the draft syllabus is now available at this link:

Revisions are in RED for reference. Deletions aren't tracked.

Revision Highlights:

Revised Table of Contents. Table of contents hyperlinks work in PDF version.

Expanded discussion in Continuity of Training section.

Added negative G excursion training rule for aircraft not equipped with inverted fuel and oil systems.

Corrected note in Table 2-3.

Refined discussion in normal landing section to clarify landing distance rules of thumb and added gust correction technique to VREF computation.

Revised maximum demonstrated cross-wind component discussion.

Added low-level wind shear discussion to All Weather Operation section.

Added Appendix B: Basic instructional briefing considerations and generic RV-type supplemental advanced handling briefing guide based on information presented in Parts 1-3.

As always, any comments or corrections are welcome via post, PM or e-mail. If anyone wishes to have a Word version of the current draft, please drop a line and I’ll be happy to share.

Fly safe,


Vac 12-26-2014 07:07 AM

Syllabus Draft Version 2.2 Available
Happy New Year everyone and best wishes for a great 2015! I’ve posted an update to the draft syllabus. The primary purpose for this revision was to beef up the discussion regarding maneuvering speed, as this is commonly misunderstood. The most up-to-date draft may be obtained at this link:

Alternate link (Walt Aronow's site--thanks Walt!): 2.2 Draft.pdf

Version 2.2 Summary of Changes:

Minor changes to cross-controlled stall objectives in Tables 1-3 and 1-4.

Added statement to use of parachute training rule to specify more than one aboard for applicability.

Revised maneuvering speed discussion in RV-type aerodynamics briefing guide. Added figure. Revised “numbers to know by heart.”

Clarified over-square operation. Note: all fixed pitch propellers optimized for cruise operation operate “over-square” during takeoff and climb operations. Generally, over-square operation does no harm if CHT and oil temperatures are within limits and mixture is properly adjusted.

Revised emergency descent discussion.

Revised discussion in Design Load Limit discussion. Added Figure 3-8 that shows relationship of maneuvering speed (symmetric and asymmetric) and G-allowable vs gross weight. Although this Figure references data for the RV-7, the basic relationship holds for all RV-types. Added maximum recommended aerobatic gross weight data and notes 5 and 6 to table 3-5. The most important concept to grasp is the maneuvering speed DECREASES above maximum allowable aerobatic gross weight (or 1600 lbs for RV-9’s). Like the TAS associated with VNE, maneuvering speed varies throughout flight as a function of gross weight and g allowable (g limit). Maneuvering speed may be slower than some folks realize.

Added statement regarding flight control application to warning in Level Turn discussion.

Minor additions to intentional spin discussion.

Maneuvering speed and cross-controlled stall discussion revised in Appendix B (handling briefing).

Moved RV-type Handling Rules of Thumb to Appendix C for ease of reference. New rules added, some rules revised and/or moved/re-numbered. Section is now ordered in phase of flight format. In conjunction with aircraft handling briefing in Appendix B, rules of thumb are designed to be a “reader’s digest” version the detailed information presented in Part 3.

All changes and additions are in red for quick reference. Deletions are not tracked. Table of Contents in pdf version is interactive. I’m working on improving the hyperlinks throughout the document to simplify navigation but learned that Word doesn’t allow linking to custom heading formats (whoops!).

Associated grade sheets for training flights can be accessed at these links:

Basic Transition:

Advanced Transition:

Combined Transition (Basic + Advanced):

Instructor Upgrade:

As always, corrections, discussion and critique are welcome via post, PM or e-mail.

Fly safe,


humptybump 12-26-2014 07:21 AM

Hi Mike,

Currently I get an error on the first link ...

Google Drive
We're sorry. You can't access this item because it is in violation of our Terms of Service.

sthopkins 12-26-2014 08:06 AM

Link 4 inop

Walt 12-26-2014 08:41 AM

Please send me a copy, I may be able to post the PDF on my website if it would help.

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