Van’s Fuels RV-15 Fever With A Fresh Video Release


Van’s Aircraft’s developmental RV-15 is getting a lot of interest these days, and a new video promising an “invisible feature” hit the internet today.

With pre-AirVenture speculation running high, one of the biggest anticipated stories is the first public appearance of RV-15 at the big show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in a couple of weeks. The design marks the first high-wing entry for the fabled kit manufacturer, and it is clearly riding the backcountry-flying popularity wave.

As reported by AVweb just a few days ago, Van’s teased its audience with a brief first-flight video. Today’s release depicts the RV-15 “employee reveal party.” As a few dozen or so workers are shown poring over the shiny all-metal taildragger airframe equipped with fat “tundra” tires, an announcer can be briefly overheard talking about how all the “shock absorption” [?] is inside the airplane to “reduce drag.”

A pair of volunteers grab the wings and rock them up and down, revealing an impressive dampening action of the flat gear legs that stabilizes almost immediately. Previous Van’s designs have used either tapered steel rods or aluminum leaf-style gear where the metal itself is the spring. (The original ultra-simple, undamped flat and tapered-rod spring steel landing gear was invented by 1930s race pilot and early Oshkosh resident Steve Wittman, after whom Wittman Regional Airport is named.) Online speculators suggest there is some form of internal shock absorption between the RV-15’s main gear legs with the springing/damping mechanism hidden in the aircraft belly.

Of some interest, Van’s has indicated on its website it eventually intends to offer a tricycle-gear version of the RV-15. It’s unclear if the mystery inter-gear dampening hardware will be relocated to a further-aft mounting point to accommodate the shift in gear geometry or if Van’s will use a different system. Other viewers have also noted the presence of a prop governor in the pilot-side air inlet, suggesting the engine is the angle-valve Lycoming IO-390 of at least 210 HP.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. I think Vans knew if they had to design it around the IO-390 because that’s what people were going to use whether they designed it for that or not. And I’d bet money at least one or two of the first 50 built end up with an IO-540 crammed in there.

  2. Looks a little like one of the greatest STOL aircraft ever built, a Helio Courier. It doesn’t appear to be as long, the landing gear is not as far forward, it does have the long Helio flaps, same shape rudder, and looks like a stabilator rather than an elevator. Beautiful plane….can’t go wrong using some of Helio’s design.