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Old 09-05-2013, 08:19 PM
ChiefPilot's Avatar
ChiefPilot ChiefPilot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 1,589
Default RV-6A N164BL - Brad Benson

This is my RV-6A which I started building in 2001. I flew it for the first time on November 24, 2012 then after about 100 hours dropped it off at Midwest Aircraft Refinishing for paint. I picked it up on August 3, 2013 and this is what it looks like:

I designed the paint scheme myself, using side and top views from the plans along with a Mac image editor called 'Acorn'. I'd been kicking around the paint scheme for the ~12 years it took to build the project, but it was only in the last couple that the scheme started to solidify. It was changing right up until about a week before I dropped it off at the paint shop.

From the outset, I was determined not to develop a case of AIDS (aviation-induced divorce syndrome) as part of this project was to provide us something to visit friends and family. The N-number therefore, logically, represents "One -6(a) for Brad and Lynn".

The panel is IFR, with a Dynon D10A EFIS and redundant steam gauges. The avionics stack provides for VOR/LOC/ILS approaches as well as non-precision GPS approaches. The Dynon 2-axis autopilot is a nice workload reliever on trips, although I find I prefer to hand-fly most of the time and save the autopilot for use when doing things like checking a map or eating lunch. I decided early on that I wanted the panel to be as "human friendly" as possible - panel items were to be logically grouped and immediately apparent as to their function. All switches are across the bottom, and fuses mounted under a swing-down door for access. I used a composite panel blank from Laird Owens, and switch plates I designed and had manufactured by Front Panel Express. Designing/wiring the electrical and avionics systems was by far my favorite part of this project!

One of the things I had seen here on VAF as well as at Oshkosh was an oil door with no visible latches or hinges. I made my own hidden hinge from several layers of CF cloth, and designed/manufactured the latch mechanism from various materials using my milling machine. The latch is released via a pull cord inside the left air inlet, and the door is sprung open slightly by a piece of neoprene tubing held in compression against the hidden hinge and a foam backstop glassed onto the top of the cowl. I'm really happy with how this turned out!

For lighting, I really liked the recessed lights delivered with the standard 7/8/9/etc. wingtips, but remember - this is a -6A which provides far more fun for your building dollar. I hacked the tips apart and installed the Airtech insets from Van's, then nestled the Kill-a-Cycle/CreativeAir LED position lights inside. The strobe lights are Nova units, using a Whelen lens to provide the correct distribution of light. The strobe is recessed slightly and mounted on sub-surface shelf to provide clearance from the clear plastic lens and also to stay out of the way of the landing/taxi light.

When I picked it from the paint shop, I still had fuel caps with Sharpie-marking the capacity and type of fuel. Clearly, that wouldn't do so I ordered custom fuel caps from Aircraft Specialty. They look great - highly recommended!

People invariably ask if it is really as fast as Van's claims. I didn't build it for speed (I typically cruise at ~150 KTAS to save fuel), but I did take it up high for a speed run after one of the guys at the paint shop asked how it did at 10,000. I've done numerous speed runs using the GPS and the NTPS spreadsheet, and I believe the Dynon to be accurate - while far from the fastest RV around, I'm more than happy with this! (please excuse the uncentered ball and slight altitude deviation - this was the only photo I took that was in focus. Normally the ball is centered during all phases of flight thanks to the adjustable rudder trim).

The highlight (so far, anyway) occurred just this week when I got home from work. I took one of my airport buddies to a pancake breakfast in New Lisbon WI after looking online to see where such a breakfast might be happening. When we got there, they asked for the particulars and also contact information for the pilot for the RV judging they were doing. When I got home from work this past Wednesday, I had a box that contained this! While I question the judgement of those looking the aircraft over - there were several really *NICE* RVs there - I am really humbled/honored that they would send this to me!

A number of MN Wing members made this journey possible for me and contributed time and expertise - Mike Hilger made a number of Tech Counselor visits and Tom Berge provided much wisdom along with transition training. When the world ended one day (i.e. when the slider canopy frame kinked while being “fit”), Alex Peterson said to bring it over and he’d weld it up. I likely never would have attempted the composite rear slider skirt were it not for the expertise and encouragement from Pete Howell. Bob Collins, Bryan Flood, and especially Vince Bastianni were a constant source of encouragement and helping hands as well.

Several VAF folks were extremely helpful as well - whether they knew it or not. Big thanks to Dan Horton for constantly sharing his knowledge of composite techniques, Kevin Horton for his wisdom around handling and flight testing, and Bob Axsom for his model of discipline and experimentation.

I hope to see you all at a fly in soon!
Brad Benson, Maplewood MN.
RV-6A N164BL, Flying since Nov 2012!
If you're not making mistakes, you're probably not making anything

Last edited by ChiefPilot : 09-06-2013 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:31 PM
RV7AJeremy's Avatar
RV7AJeremy RV7AJeremy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Gilbert AZ
Posts: 416

Well done Brad. She looks amazing!
Carbon Cub EX2 N852AZ KCHD
EAA Tech Counselor
2017 Bronze Lindy
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:44 AM
pierre smith's Avatar
pierre smith pierre smith is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Louisville, Ga
Posts: 7,936
Default Wow

Beautiful bird with outstanding attention to detail!


Rv10 Sold
46 years ag pilot/CFI
Air Tractor 502/PT-6
Building RV-12, Wings, fuse, emp complete. FWF in progress.
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Old 09-06-2013, 05:18 AM
Mark Dickens's Avatar
Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Collierville, TN (KFYE)
Posts: 1,475

Beautiful work, beautiful plane!
RV-8 #81077 Super Slow Build
Dynon Skyview HDX, Titan IOX-370, Dual P-Mags, AFP FM200A FI, Whirlwind 200RV CS Prop
First Flight 11/20/2016
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:33 AM
BSwayze's Avatar
BSwayze BSwayze is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Molalla, Oregon
Posts: 955

Beautiful, Brad! Wow. Nice job. Where can a guy get more details on how to do an oil door like that?
Bruce Swayze
RV-7A Standard Build
First flight November 3, 2019!
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:27 AM
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bugsbunny bugsbunny is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 103
Default Congrats

It was great having you and your aircraft at our fly-in, as you mentioned there were many beautiful Rv's at our show.
Your plane was outstanding, well built with attention to detail and a wonderful paint job.
It's never easy doing the judging because of the outstanding workmanship in many of these aircraft. I would like everyone to get first place.
Again, thanks for joining us and congratulations on a beautiful build.

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