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Van's "RV-1" -- The First Of The Breed

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The line of 7,620 aircraft flown that is the RV series of Van's Aircraft began with one -- and that one, flown originally by Van's founder Dick VanGrunsven in the mid-1960s, is here at Sun 'n Fun 2012, newly restored and flying. The aircraft had been existing in relative anonymity until nearly five years ago, when it attracted the attention of RV enthusiasts who recognized it as a historic artifact. The aircraft was acquired and a call was sent to the RV community that the restoration of what would come to be known as the "RV-1" would need their help. The community responded, and this year the aircraft flew in to Lakeland, Fla., on its own wings. It's now on tour and headed for one final destination.

The aircraft had never been a showpiece and the restoration honored that history. The aircraft has the imperfections of a favorite piece of clothing, but still manages 165 mph on 125 hp, cruising nearly as well as it did in 1965. Dick VanGrunsven's line of homebuilts was born from modifications he made to this aircraft. It began life as a Stits Playboy, a mostly wood and fabric kit aircraft originally designed in 1952. That aircraft had wooden wings and a fabric covering with an externally braced wing. Van's desire for improvement added a larger tail and a different cowl and fuselage profile, along with a wing design that would later fly on the RV-3. After an early summer tour, the aircraft is headed to the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow and the EAA museum, for safekeeping.

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