Van’s Aircraft kitplanes, Boeing doesn’t plan to change the Dreamliner for Emirates, NASA is looking for astronauts, the first customer-built SubSonex jet flies, the Pilatus PC-12 business jet also has its first flight, and livestock pass gas.
Dick (“Van”) VanGrunsven is founder and CEO of kitplane maker Van’s Aircraft. Van has been flying since 1956 and has logged more than 15,000+ hours (the majority of it in airplanes of his own design) and holds CFI, multi-engine, and ATP ratings.
We talk with Van about the kitplane business in general and the Van’s Aircraft planes in particular. Van tells us what it is about the character of the planes that makes them so popular with kit builders and with the pilots who fly them. We also touch on personal jets, the decrease in numbers of amateur built planes, and how the availability of used experimental planes contributes to shrinking sales of new kits. Van also talks about getting good flight instruction in experimental aircraft.
Throughout high school and college Van flew a Cub and a Taylorcraft from the 670 foot grass strip on his parent’s farm. After finishing engineering school and a stint in the Air Force, he purchased a homebuilt 65 hp Stits Playboy, which he rebuilt with a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, Hoerner style wingtips, and an all new set of cantilever aluminum wings to replace the strut-braced wood and fabric originals. Renamed the RV-1, the Playboy flew like a new airplane.
Van flew the RV-1 from 1965 through 1968 but he felt something better was possible. He wanted an airplane that was able to fly in and out of any reasonable airstrip, with enough power and maneuverability to do good basic aerobatics, and cruise as fast as possible. He reluctantly sold the RV-1 and began design and construction of a completely original airplane.
The single-seat RV-3 flew for the first time in August 1971. Van quit his job at a forklift manufacturer and began supplying basic kits for the RV-3.
Over the next forty years, Van’s Aircraft became the acknowledged leader in the kit aircraft world. New aircraft, from the RV-4 through the Light Sport RV-12 and now the “widebody” RV-14, have been introduced and each has proven successful in the marketplace. For most of that time, Van was chief engineer, head designer, and CEO of the company.
Mark Newton is an Australian private pilot who started learning to fly in 1999, after a weather diversion as a passenger in a Grumman Traveller light aircraft wound-up as an unexpected overnight stay at a gliding field. Over the years Mark has flown 24 types of gliders, and he holds a glider instructor rating.
Gliders in Australia don’t require pilot licenses, so Mark didn’t start training for his PPL until 2008. He bought a well-built RV-6 in 2011, and enjoys using it for traveling to distant parts of the country, aerobatics, the odd “$100 hamburger,” and installing “RV-grins” on new aviators as part of their first taste of flight, including several who have gone on to gain pilot licenses of their own.
Emirates has said they will decide in 2016 if they will order almost 100 planes, either the Boeing 787-10 or the Airbus for A350-900. Emirates needs long-range planes that can operate in hot climates. Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth says, “The plan is not to change the aircraft, we really like what we have.”
NASA announced that by summer 2017 they will begin recruiting a new astronaut class of 8 to 14 people. This is an item that Yong-Lim Foo should pay attention to, our listener from Singapore. There are some basic requirements: You have to be between 62 and 75 inches tall and have a military, science, or technical background. You could end up on the International Space Station, traveling to the moon, or maybe even going to Mars. For more information, see http://www.nasa.gov/astronauts.
Redge Greenberg, of Durango, Colorado, received the first SubSonex kit (S/N JSX0003) in February and is now the first customer to build and fly the SubSonex Personal Jet. The SubSonex is sold as a Quick Build Kit only. Greenberg has 4,500-plus hours in numerous aircraft and says, “…I never got the chance to fly a jet. I first saw the prototype of the SubSonex at Oshkosh, and followed the development for over a year. When Sonex offered the jet as a kit, I was first in line. Like my RV8, the SubSonex is aerobatic, but the Sonex company also included a ballistic parachute for extra safety.”
Pilatus Aircraft is entering the business jet market with its six-passenger PC-24, which had its first flight in May. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2017, the second half of that year for U.S. deliveries. This will compete with the Cessna Citation business jets.
The Aviation Herald reported that a Singapore Airlines plane with 2,186 sheep onboard diverted to Bali after “exhaust gasses and manure produced by the sheep” caused the smoke detector to go off. The airline says there is no evidence the livestock were responsible.
Pieter visits the Science Museum in London to show what visitors can see from an aviation perspective in the center of London. He gives a quick review of the aviation, aerospace and space exhibits on display and talks about other potential aviation sites to visit in the capital and elsewhere in the UK. The Science Museum is free and has a couple of hours worth of aviation exhibits if you want to slowly browse. If you want to speed around you can do them in less than an hour. However, the reset of the Museum will attract some attention as well and worthy of a whole day if you can spare it. Pieter also suggests making contact with him, if you are visiting and he (and his network) will help point you in the direction of aviation sites to visit in both London as well as the rest of the UK.
Anthony Nalli from The Aviators, a Sonex crash takes two lives, United spurns the A380, EPA to announce aviation emissions regulations, EasyJet using drones for aircraft inspections, and JetBlue does the right thing for autism.
Anthony Nalli is Executive Producer and Director of The Aviators, an independently produced television series with 5 seasons completed so far. Anthony is an instrument rated pilot and published writer with a passion for aviation. As the show’s “everyman” Anthony does things most weekend pilots can relate to.
We talk with Anthony about growth in viewership, some of the people featured in past episodes, and the new Air Boss program that provides an inside view of that very demanding job.
The Aviators airs on most PBS stations across the United States, it’s on in Canada on Travel+Escape, and on Discovery Channel in many countries. You can also find episodes on iTunes, Hulu, and Amazon. Visit The Aviators website, find them on IMDB, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Some sad news. Jeremy Monnett, the CEO of Sonex Aircraft, and Michael Clark, a Sonex assembly mechanic, were killed when their plane crashed near Wittman Regional Airport. Jeremy Monnett was 40 and Michael Clark was 20. Jeremy was our guest on Airplane Geeks Episode 65, in 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
According to “unnamed” sources, the Environmental Protection Agency will soon announce carbon emission standards for commercial aviation. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says, “This is something that we have been working with EPA on. It’s going to be a long-term process really to bring aviation into compliance with a lot of policy level initiatives taking place globally. What we want to make sure is that anything EPA does, they understand the technical situation in the aviation industry and what is within the realm of possible.”
UK company Blue Bear Systems is working with EasyJet to use the Remote Intelligent Survey Equipment for Radiation (RISER) quadrotor UAV for aircraft inspection. The RISER was originally designed for gamma radiation inspection. A two-laser infrared system keep the RISER 1m away from the aircraft it is inspecting. RISER has a number of sensors (electro-optical, light detection, and ranging) which can locate damage caused by lightning strikes. The Riser area of operation can be geofenced.
The Australia News Desk
It’s the Queen’s Birthday long weekend here in Australia and while the boys didn’t get any recognition from Her Majesty, some of their friends and guests of Plane Crazy Down Under did as Chris Sperou and Dave Jacka both get Order of Australia Medals and Dick Smith gets upgraded to Companion of the Order of Australia:
Guest Jeremy Monnett, the CEO of Sonex Aircraft, joins Rob and Max to talk about building your own airplane. Sonex is also developing other interesting kit planes, including jet and electric powered versions and we talk about those as well.
We have aviation news from the past week as well as the report from the Airplane Geeks Australia Desk. David Vanderhoof joins us for his This Week in Aviation history lesson and we have some listener mail.
Dan couldn’t make it for this episode (although we note he’s been spending time at the Plane Crazy Down Under Podcast), but he sneaks in with a recorded interview with Simon Talling Smith, Executive VP of the America’s for British Airways.