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Wed, Feb 14, 2007

A Whole Lotta RVs: 5000th Vans Aircraft Completed

Company Shipped First RV-3 Kit In 1973

An ANN News-Spy alerted us Wednesday to a rather significant accomplishment for Vans Aircraft. In typically understated fashion, the homebuilt airplane manufacturer didn't shout the news from the proverbial rooftops... but we will: the 5000th Vans aircraft builders report was recently submitted!

The news was a nice Valentine's Day gift for the company. On February 13, RV-8 builder Steve Fromhals of San Antonio, TX submitted the 5000th "first flight" report, detailing his experiences since his bird first took flight (above) in April 2006.

"I thought the RV-6 that I built previously was a wonderful machine and I have not been disappointed in any way with the new RV-8," said Fromhals in his report, posted on the Vans website. "It is truly amazing! All of the raving about RVs is true. I am already looking forward to another RV project, even though I still need to get this one painted!"

That wasn't the end of good news for Vans, either. Later the same day, another report was received, bringing the total to 5001.

Averaged across the company's 34 year history, that works out to a new airplane in the air every 2.5 days since the company began shipping kits. Very few producers of light aircraft, either kitbuilt or certified, have reached that benchmark.

Van's began shipping kits for the single-seat RV-3 in 1973 -- and the kit is still in production today. Company founder Dick VanGrunsven (right) followed the RV-3 up with the two-seat RV-4 and RV-6 (which, at over 2100 flying, is probably the most popular kit aircraft ever), RV-7, RV-8, and RV-9. In August 2003, the company introduced their first four-seat aircraft, the RV-10.

More than 700 RV-10s have shipped and about 70 are flying. The RV-12, Van's entry into the new and exciting light sport aircraft market, should be available near the end of the year.

"All our designs are excellent airplanes that build on our many years of direct experience and communication with the folks who build them," said VanGrunsven. "New technology has allowed us to improve the kits dramatically, which has resulted in substantially reduced building times. Our current completion rate is about 500 per year, so we look forward to announcing the six thousandth completion, probably in 2009 -- but 2008 wouldn't surprise me!"

Nor us...

FMI: www.vansaircraft.com

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