Van’s Aircraft RV-15 – The Great Reveal.
Van’s Aircraft’s developmental RV-15 is getting a lot of interest these days. Mainly fuelled by a new video promising an “invisible feature” hit the internet today.
Pre-AirVenture speculation is high
With pre-AirVenture speculation running high, one of the biggest anticipated stories is the first public appearance of RV-15. This will be 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. This aircraft 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.”
An impressive damping action
A pair of volunteers grab the wings and rock them up and down. This action reveals 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.
A tricycle-gear version of the RV-15?
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. This would be 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. This suggests the engine is the angle-valve Lycoming IO-390 of at least 210 HP.
Mark Phelps 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.