On Saturday, September 23, 2023, I had the opportunity to fly a really nice experimental aircraft, a Van’s RV7A, with a friend who owns it! Being experimental, this means that this aircraft was built by hand, not on an assembly line, from plans that were supplied by the manufacturer, which in this case, is Van’s Aircraft.
An owner has to build the aircraft, typically in his garage, or maybe a hangar, or perhaps in a large room somewhere. And building is a process that can take years to complete! Depends on the builder and his/her experience. This is a long-term commitment. Plan on probably working on this every weekend for years. As long as it takes. And for some, these projects never get completed. Life gets in the way.
But, the end result is a beautiful airplane, and the pride that comes from having built your own airplane! And Van’s RVs are notorious for how well they handle! The flight controls only take a very light touch, and they are very responsive! They are a delight to fly! They call it ‘the RV grin!’. The first time I had a chance to take the controls in an RV-6 that I was flying with a friend, the pilot I was flying with, commented that I had ‘the RV grin!’ ☺ It was great!! They are so nice to fly! The controls are so well balanced, with very little ‘play’. They are not ‘heavy’ like some other airplanes.
The avionics now typically consist of ‘glass panels’. But all avionics cannot be installed in experimental aircraft. Some avionics can only be installed in FAA ‘certified’ aircraft, and other avionics have been designed and built to be installed in experimental aircraft. This is all regulatory ‘stuff’. There are differences in the design criteria. A builder has more choices in what he can install in his panel with an experimental aircraft.
The RV-7A that we flew had an ‘Advanced 5600’ PFD, or primary flight display, along with a Garmin GTN 650, an SL30 NavCom, and a Garmin 696 moving map. His panel also included an auto pilot and flight director.
We took off from Corona, California, and flew northwesterly at 6,500’ to the San Fernando Valley and landed at Camarillo Airport, where we met up with a group of pilot friends for lunch, at the Waypoint Café. The food there is excellent, and there is always a crowd! It was a fun way to spend a Saturday! And, after a leisurely lunch, with friends, we departed and flew back to Corona. A smooth, uneventful flight, both ways.