The RV-4 was designed in the United States by Richard Van Grunsven, and first flew in August 1979. Van’s has been supplying kits for the RV-4 for almost twenty years, and it has become one of the most popular kit aircraft in the world. Somewhere between 900 and 1000 examples have been flown in countries all over the globe. There are around 20 or so in the UK at the present time.
Vans produce a selection of designs, in a tandem or side by side configuration. They also produce a four seat kit, the RV-10. Vans announced in 2004 that the total number of kits sold worldwide, had exceeded 4000.
The RV-4 is a two seat tandem configuration. The seating is compact, but comfortable. There is a 7.3 cubic feet baggage compartment behind the rear seat. The RV-4 s designed to be flown from the front seat only, but there is a stick and rudder pedals for the rear seat passenger to take basic control of the aircraft. Justyn uses a self contained smoke system, which can be fitted quickly in the rear baggage bay area for shows. Justyn’s RV-4 is fitted with a 5.4 litre, 4 cylinder, 160 hp Lycoming engine and a constant speed propeller for enhanced performance.
RVs are aluminium mono-coque structures. The aluminium skins are supported by an internal structure of ribs, spars, and bulkheads. Thousands of aircraft rivets are used to fabricate the structure. The cowling, wing tips, wheel fairings and similar non-structural fairing parts are made of fibreglass.
The all-around capabilities of the RV-4 are impressive. It is capable of excellent “sport” aerobatics. Roll rates are in excess of 140 degrees per second. The high inertia and low drag of the RV-4 design permits nice large looping manoeuvres at relatively low G-loads. The RV-4 has a design stress limit of +6 and -3G’s at aerobatic gross weight (1375 lbs). This equates to an ultimate, or failure limit of +9 and -4.5 Gs. The RV-4 is equally at home on long cross-country flights, at a fair pace (up to 180 knots), with good all round visibility.
A modified RV-4 has circumnavigated the globe three times in the hands of Australian Jon Johanson. Another modified RV-4, flown by Bruce Bohannon, currently holds the world altitude record forsingle engine piston aircraft at over 49,000 feet.