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Old 08-22-2006, 06:27 PM
admin admin is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 78
Default RV-4 PIREP: Cam Benton (part II)

...continued from part I

IFR Platform

Everything I?ve read tries to steer RV owners away from using their planes while under IFR. I got my instrument rating in my Cardinal and am partial to it under those conditions. It is excellent in IMC. I?ve now flown about 45 minutes actual IMC in the RV4. I?ve not shot an approach with it. So far, I?ve found it to be a great IFR plane. I don?t have an autopilot in it yet, but it is stable and easy to control. The good performance allows me to stay on (or quickly get back to) assignment. I can slow it down in order to stay ahead of it. (This alone gets IFR pilots in trouble. They?re afraid to slow down in IMC, yet they probably need to.)

The RV4 doesn?t allow much room for charts, so I use a kneeboard and notes to keep me ahead. Charts are within reach at my right elbow. I would rather fly IMC in my Cardinal, but I?m confident in the RV4. I don?t agree that the RV planes are not good instrument platforms, but I understand why many might feel this way. I do think these conditions could quickly get too demanding in the soup for many pilots. But with proper training and currency, I think the RVs can be excellent IFR planes. However, if the flight called for anything more than getting through a layer, I would choose to fly my Cardinal.

Best in Category ? Cardinal
Second ? RV4


I haven?t broken out the full bag of tricks in the RV4 yet. I have done rolls, wing-overs, stalls, spins and high G pull ups in it. I have not done full loops, Immelmans, half Cubans, hammerheads, avalanche, and such. Once I get some recurrent instruction and a parachute I?ll work on these.

The 4 is excellent at rolling and sky dancing. With music on there?s not much better in life. In fact, this is worth the price of admission for me.

The RV4 requires an extremely high nose up pitch to stall prior to entering a spin. Pro-spin controls must be fully held to get it to enter a spin. Once it spins, one can feel it ?bang around? for the first time. It wants to straighten out and is telling you to let it. It is not an uncomfortable feeling, just the plane communicating back that something is amiss. Multiple turns are comfortable and seem slower turning than in my Cardinal. When opposite rudder is applied the RV wants to continue the spin rather than pop out immediately. Not until back elevator is neutralized does the spin stop. By comparison, the Cardinal and the Decathlon will pop right out once top rudder is given. A secondary stall will occur right then if the yoke/stick isn?t moved forward, but the spin is over.

To be fair the RV also is quick to recover from the spin. In fact, just let go of everything and it will probably stop spinning, but I haven?t tried this. I?ve got more notes to take regarding spins, but so far I?m filled with confidence about spinning the RV4. However, speed will build quickly in this plane and true vertical attitude after a spin is probably not advisable. The Decathlon would be my choice for this.

Best in Category ? Extra 300 L
Second ? Super Decathlon
Third ? RV4


All I can say is, ?What a blast!? The RV approach is different than anything else I?ve done while landing. Downwind ? tight; Speed ? slow to 85 knots; Power ? idle; Flaps ? full; Base and Final ? blended into one grace full maneuver; Sight picture ? nose low; Line up ? happy feet; Let it happen ? don?t make it happen; Fly it on; Greaser!

It is an extremely easy to land airplane? once I let it teach me how it wanted to land. I love landings in the 4! I would rather land this plane than any other plane I?ve flown. That sounds like I?m anxious to get out ? I?m not. I just love landing the RV4. It lands as nicely as it takes off. I can feel it taking care of me. Is it alive?

Best in Category - RV4


Can you tell I love this machine? Let?s see. After a six hour XC trip I didn?t want to stop flying. I can?t say that about my Cardinal and it?s got a relatively huge cabin. Everyone I?ve given RV4 rides to loves it, and lets out at least one belly laugh during the flight. It looks good on the ramp and flies well. It?s fast and slow if I want it to be. It?s stable and responsive. It?s STOL and XC capable.

I loved all the planes I?ve flown - just differently. In my perfect world I would have a big, new, sealed, and painted hangar. In this hangar you would find a high wing representative in the form of a 1968 Cardinal with tuned exhaust. This would cover training and people transport, IFR and be my only trike gear plane. Obviously, there would be an Extra 300L for aerobatic duty. The bush plane would be a TD Maule with tundra tires because it can haul a lot and takeoff and land short. Front and center would be the RV4.

Since the world is not perfect and funds, unlike the imagination, are limited, the real picture will look slightly different. I?m sure however, the RV4 will remain front and center. The RV4 is the best mix of all the qualities and actually shares duty with all the planes I?ve mentioned. That?s a remarkable statement when one considers the list of planes it has pulled in front of!

Best in Category - RV4
Doug Reeves
Owner: Delta Romeo, LLC.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:56 PM
svanarts svanarts is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: California's vast Central Valley
Posts: 571

Hear, hear! I concur completely. The RV-4 has got to be the esiest landing taildragger ever! Great writeup.
Scott VanArtsdalen
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:03 AM
ProCoach ProCoach is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Saguache, CO
Posts: 102

Thanks, I didn't know it would be posted on Rick's site and VAF. I might have sparkled it up a bit had I expected that, but... what the heck. Just one guy's opinion anyway.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:48 AM
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smokyray smokyray is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: TX32
Posts: 1,912
Default My Dos Centavos...

OK, if we're going to post opinions, here's my ever so humble 2 cents worth from somebody with a couple of RV4 hours...

RV-4 Pirep: Epilogue

I started building my RV4 in 1989 in Japan while stationed there. I had never seen an RV (except in a magazine)yet bought the RV4 tail kit sight unseen. I finished the RV4 in 1996 after many USAF moves, trials tribulations and setbacks. The support network that now exists wasn't there yet.( There were barely 500 flying RV's when I bought my empennage kit., Internet, what's that?) My test flight was my first RV flight, however, I had alot of lightplane experience and 3000+ tailwheel hours.

Here is my highly biased impressions/comparisons of airplanes I have had the opportunity/blessing to fly.

Ramp appeal:

1. F-16C wins hands down, best looking airplane on the planet (I'm biased) and correct number of seats.(1) OK, you can't build one (well maybe?) but I had to list it..
2.Harmon Rocket 2 (RV4 on steroids, better looking,not as boxy as the 8)
4. RV4
Distant 4th.. All other RV's...especially A's (grumman look-alikes)!

Cockpit: Get in, sit down, strap it on and woo hoo! Questions? (Cam, a reverse push-up on the canopy rails while lowering yourself in is the preferred option).
1. F16
2. HR2
1.F-16C Block 30 (clean, no external tanks or stores) The absolutely best thrill on the planet with seeing your kids born and sex a distant second and third...60,000 pph fuel flow on takeoff, 27,500 lbs of thrust/25,000 takeoff weight. Do the math, >1:1 dude! Accelerate to 350 KIAS by the end of the runway and pull back to 90 degrees nose high, you will see 250 IAS knots going through 20,000 feet...can you say woo hoo? Even with 2 X 2000 lb JDAM bombs, 2 X A-120 missiles, 2 X 370 gallon external fuel tanks and a big lunch (combat missions are 6+ hours now) it will climb at 400 knots to 20,000' at a 45 degree angle!
2. T-38 not bad for a trainer..
3. Harmon Rocket 2... 300 HP RV4...questions? 3000 fpm intial climb, 200 knots cruise...
4. RV4, all engines, props, whatever...awesome.

OK, you have to define the mission:

Combat: Air to everything: Air, Ground, Sea, whatever
1. F16
2. F18
4. SU-27
5. RV4 (in a pinch)

F22: yet to be proven but could make all of the above pale in comparison.
Backwoods, low and slow, landing shorter than 1000'.(smooth surface)

1. Super Cub
2. Light RV-4 (yep, lots of times)
3. Scout
4. Arctic Tern
5. Husky

IFR: In civilian lightplanes...? Why Cam? I started my career in lightplanes and spent alot of scary nights flying around the SE USA working for fly-by-night (literally)outfits back in the day. However, if you have to pick a lightplane I thought the Cessna 310 was pretty nice in the goo. Two engines in the goo over swamps or mountains buys you options when one fan quits, at least for a little while. The other 2 birds on the list (non-turbine) flew nice IMC too. The endearing question is why thrash around in the goo (which where I live means T-storms) in an airplane I built in my garage, no weather radar? Ever been vectored into an imbedded boomer at night IMC without a WX radar? I have, it isn't fun. If you must, the RV4 needs an autopilot so you can look away once in awhile. I built mine VMC so I can enjoy just flying...period.

1. C-310
2. Aerostar
3. Navajo

Most Bang (and I mean pure FUN bang)for personal (not taxpayer) Bucks.
1. RV4 (amen brother, ain't no question)
2. RV3 (too close to call, RV4 with no witnesses)
3. Pitts S-1(best 20K you can spend)
4. One Design (poor mans extra 300)
5. HR2 (most airplane of the above but most spendy$$)

I have to agree with you, the RV4 tops my list for best of category period dot. Believe it or not, the Harmon Rocket is even better in most categories. Both are great all-around "do fun things" airplanes. My bottom line is I can afford to own my own cool airplane (the RV4) I built myself in my home and fly anytime I want doing alot of cool stuff. Is this a great country or what?
Great Pirep..

Rob Ray

Last edited by smokyray : 08-23-2006 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:21 AM
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BruceMe BruceMe is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shawnee, Kansas
Posts: 805

I've heard Smoky's sentiment in every single military pilot I've talk with about civilian instrument flights. "IMC is for heavy iron. Little put-puts can do it, but why?"

In reality single engine, single pilot IMC is done often and within reason, safely. Althout it is not the safest aspect of flying, it can and often is "done anyway" for very practical reasons like getting home.

IFR does not mean IMC. For those who are not instrument pilots, "IFR" only referes to additional equipement and proceedures over VFR. IMC means flying in the clouds. They are not the same thing. If I am capable, I will always file IFR for a cross country; even if it's clear and a million. Paradoxically, once you understand "the system", the overall trip is simpler under IFR regulations.

I think the general concensis on IFR equiped RV-4's is that IMC should be minimized. It just doesn't have the hardware to support extended flights in IMC. Do you have two comm's, two vor's, two transponders, truelly redundant (with seperate types of power sources) attitude instrumentation? I'm not talking aboutPart 91.205 required equipement.
I'm mean real-world redundancy and capability. Add to that that the rear seat can't possibly take the stick in IMC, it's pretty simple. RV-4 is either inadiquate or overweight for the mission, take your pick.

We in the RV community have this kind of discussion frequently about our RVs. "Why an RV isn't good at one particular aspect or another". Weather that discussion is about banner towing, aerobatics or IFR. I think we have the discussion because the plane can almost do all of them well enough. It's a jack of all trades airplane that's a master at nothing, except fun! So go out and fly it that way!

Bruce Meacham
RV-4 254MM heading to the airport this week
RV-3 6years
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Old 08-23-2006, 02:15 PM
ProCoach ProCoach is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Saguache, CO
Posts: 102

How did this digress into a discussions of F16s and IFR platforms?? Rick just wanted to know what I thought of it compared to other planes I've flown. Which I thought was a very insightful question. Thanks, Rick.
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Old 08-23-2006, 04:02 PM
svanarts svanarts is offline
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Location: California's vast Central Valley
Posts: 571

Hey Somkey, I've never flown an F-16 but... the RV-4 is better. So there!
Scott VanArtsdalen
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:31 PM
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pmercier pmercier is offline
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Location: Abbotsford BC. Canada
Posts: 123
Default My choice.

This just confirms to me that I did pick the best RV kit to build and hopefully will be flying next year if all goes well.
Philip Mercier RV-4 FK RV-7A flying
Abbotsford BC
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Old 08-24-2006, 05:41 AM
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BruceMe BruceMe is offline
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Location: Shawnee, Kansas
Posts: 805

Originally Posted by admin
[snipped, re: spin recover]A secondary stall will occur right then if the yoke/stick isn?t moved forward, but the spin is over.
I think it's related to the high stalling AoA of the stubby wing, but I found something about the RV really loves to secondary. And pretty abruptly too. Doesn't it kinda feel like it's flying well before fully normalized airflow is restored to the wings? That was how I felt it anyway. It took a concerted effort to really unload it to get it to fly again. This is important to note if you are trying to force a spin-recovery. I recall having to be gentle on the initial recover till you have good airspeed.

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Old 08-24-2006, 07:12 AM
n38139 n38139 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 686
Default RV-4 IMC

The best money I have spent on my RV-4 is a TruTrak autopilot. I have the model that is a wing leveler, hdg hold, gps track. It is great just for VMC x-countries. I think it would be a must for IMC.

I too have flown single engine jets in the military that don't have any type of autopilot (T-33) and I can tell you if you aren't totally prepared for IMC operation on the ground before you takeoff, you will be really behind the airplane in the air. The same thing would apply in an Rv-4 or 8. My two cents!
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