Van’s unveiled its new RV-15 prototype Saturday in a YouTube video that gathered 7,000 views in the first few hours. The company’s first high-wing design took off in a few hundred feet and climbed briskly in the video. It’s not being billed as a “first flight” but it is the first public release of details of the program. “The cat’s out of the bag — and here’s what our team has been working on lately,” Van’s said in the YouTube description, “Introducing the RV-15 Engineering Test Prototype aircraft.”

The company has been working on the project for some time and the aircraft in the video is the test bed for the kits that will follow. “This airplane was built to evaluate and test the design, and what we’ve been learning from this engineering ‘tool’ test airplane will result in refinements and changes that will appear in the final ‘kit’ aircraft design.” The plane will be officially unveiled at AirVenture on July 26.


    • Van’s design their airplanes around their tooling. They often use a larger tail with a shorter boom/fuselage so it has the same control capability as a longer fuselage with a smaller tail.

  1. The constant chord wing is inefficient. Give us at least a semi tapered wing for better performance in all parameters.
    When a company is pumping out hundreds of kits, there is no excuse for giving us a less than good design to save money on a few rib forming jigs.
    Ask Barnaby Wainfan about the issue!

    • Vans doesn’t try to make the best airplanes. They try to make the best airplane kits. The amount that are built is astounding. I’d be really interested in how many of the planes are taken apart before they reach 2,000 hours.
      That being said, some of the designs have proven very popular and flyable. Still, I think it’s more about building and flying than just flying.

    • Barnaby Wainfan (who happens to be my dad) is perfectly fine with constant cord wings for simplicity and has nothing but respect for Dick VanGrunsven. It’s not a “less good design” in terms of cost and simplicity which, for most recreational flyers are just as, if not more important. Otherwise everyone would be flying Lancairs and nobody would be flying cubs. I know which I prefer, and it ain’t the Lancair.

  2. Barnaby is “the man” in all things aero, for sure, but at some point ease of production/keeping the price down/ease of assembly has to be factored in. I’m not too sure if a tapered wing is best for STOL either, when I’m on short final on a mountain top landing, I want all the wing area I can get. The big question is how STOLLY (?) is VANS attempting to be with this new design.

    • “how STOLLY (?) is VANS attempting to be” For one thing: I can see some flap tracks hang’n under the wing. So . . . not just a typical Van’s plain flap. Also, nice big vert fin/rudder for slow flight.

  3. I visited the vansaircraft website to learn more, but upon clicking the big “Aircraft Specs” button towards the bottom of the RV-15 page, I declined to continue my pursuit of further information as I disagreed with the terms thence set forth by the website. (I enjoyed the good humor they exhibit throughout the web page, nonetheless.)