Our Corner of the World

Bob Hassel & Jan Martinez


About us
Our Texas Home
Our NM Home

Bob  or   Jan

Travels & Family
Our Boxster

Flying Resources
Canard Resources
Michael Pollock

Our RV Project


Arrives - Feb 21, 2002
HS Parts
HS Build
HS Attach Angle
VS Parts
VS Build
Rudder Parts
Rudder Build
Elevator Parts
Elevator Build




RV9/9A Links
S. Todd Bartrim
Tim Coldenhoff
Steven Curran
Ray and Michele Doerr 
Thor Hardarson 
Chris Heitman 
Brad Hiatt
Todd Houg 
Andy Karmy
Gary Newsted  
Gene Park  
John and Vivian Rotunda 
Robert Scott
Jim Streit
Barry Wainwright

Sam Mourning

Warren Hurd

Ivo Welch
Matthew & Sandi's

Matt's Subie Pwr 9A
Clay's RV9A
Thor Hardarson

RV Extra's
Meske Tip-Up Slider Canopy Mod
Fabian Lefler's Great Modular Instrument Panel

RV Pic's
RV9 Pics by Kelly
Andy Karmy's Pic's

Sam Benjamin's 9
Matt's Subie Pwr'd RV9A

Bill Jaques Subie Pwr'd RV9A
Bob Cuttings RV9A


Details - How, What, Why?

The beginning.

We've decided not to track our time on this project. We both do that at work enough, this is for fun. Besides times are always relative. People work, think and react at different speeds depending on their experience and events in their current environment. Also, I don't want to box myself into a time table. It'll get done when it gets done. We plan on working on the project a little every night that we feel like doing it.

I am going to try and document each step along the way. I'm a newbie at this so, what I hope will eventually appear simple later is still somewhat challenging now. Maybe my on-line documentation will help someone else out. When I was trying to figure out if I could really do this or not there was one RV6 web site that I discovered (among the many) that showed each step. They showed how easy it was to rivet, how easy it was to do this step or that process. They also showed how to approach something that may not have been as clear at first glance. Perhaps I'll help someone else out along the way and return the favor that someone else so graciously gave me.

Why a Van's RV9A?

Ok, if you check out my ' Canard Resources ' page you'll find I bought plans for a Cozy Mk IV and feel in love with a Velocity (both are fast 2+2 aircraft). I wasn't looking so much for a 4 passenger aircraft as I was a 2 place with lots of baggage room (ie - golf clubs). However, I just don't have the temperature controlled room to deal with composite building, especially here in the Dallas area. Those projects will have to wait. Since those favorites were out I had to look elsewhere.

Ok, so now it's time for an update even to this page.  My desire and need to build a canard suddenly vanished when the RV10 became a reality.  Sanding isn't my thing.  Why limit yourself to taking off only from paved runways at least 3000 ft in length?  Insurance is extremely difficult to get for the canards and for many isn't even an option.  I sat in a Cozy and it was just to small for most folks - ok it was really too small for my ever expanding girth.  Even before I started the unplanned expansion the instrument panel resting on my legs was not what I'd considered comfortable.  Nothing against those two designs.  They of course serve their niche and for many of us represented a new look in aircraft, even though it was the original look of the Wrights and was creatively resurrected with style and flash by Burt Rutan in the incredible Vari-Eze series which both of those designs sprung from.  The Velocity poster has come down from it's place on the wall, the cobwebs dusted off and placed in the trash. 

I really like the looks and flying qualities of the Glastar, especially since it has emerged from it's bankruptcy.  The kit costs were clumped together in bigger lumps than I could afford in a reasonable amount of time and the cruise speeds were slower than what I was really looking for.  Vans' kits are basically in $5,000 clumps - which goes down a little easier. Van's also has great builder support. Van's has sold literally thousands of kits and have continually refined their aircraft. For the last several years I would periodically call Van's and beg for a 4 passenger aircraft kit (like many others apparently had done). Viola the RV-10 is now beginning it's gestation. I just didn't want to wait for a few more years flying so... I'll build a 2 place now, maybe sell it later and look for my second project as a 4 passenger. Actually in truth, I've stalled on finishing the empennage long enough that I'm now waiting to figure out if the next thing I order is a wing kit on the 9 or and empennage kit for the 10!

Why an RV9 and not a RV7? I'm a relatively low time pilot with virtually no hours in the last 10 years. I just couldn't afford to rent. I am also a fairly straight and level type of pilot. In my dreams I might think of loops and rolls but by the time my stomach gets into the air those thoughts are long gone! Much of our flying will be cross country. Our families and friends are spread out from coast to coast. Also, my wife will be getting her license in the plane. Considering our projected needs it looks like the 9 (or the 10) is our best choice.

What's my building 'skill' factor?

Gee, you really know how to hit below the belt don't you! Ok, I'm a programmer/system developer by trade, a jazz musician for fun, but I had never had a shop class in my life. I once built a book case that looked really good, but it wouldn't stand up without being propped up on each side. A friend and EAA Tech Rep Michael Pollock had taught me the basics of composite building but metal was rather scary (no metal is NOT mental mis-spelled). I found some RV builders web sites that walked through their building process in enough detail that I thought it might be possible. Still, thinking back on the book case and knowing that at altitude it would be a little harder to prop up both ends, I figured some help might be in order.

Jan and I signed up for a 'hands on' class at GBI . This is the home of George & Becki Orndorff. They have a builder center just north of Fort Worth and are well known in the RV builder community for their 'How-To' classes and video series on all models of Van's aircraft, engine rebuilding video, tools video, etc.

We drove over early one brisk Saturday morning in January. There we met our fellow classmates, two couples from Colorado. We all introduced ourselves and found out a little about each others projects. One couple was from Denver and another from Loveland. George started right in teaching us neophytes (me and Jan that is) and we didn't look back. Ok our first attempt at riveting was not satisfactory for us, so we snuck in early on Sunday morning to get more practice. By the end of class on Sunday afternoon we had the basic skills to start building and even more important - the confidence. What a blast! I really recommend this approach if you're unsure of your building skills.

I should warn you up front though, the building center/airport sets about 3 miles outside of a small town called Justin, Tx. Now not being a 'native Texan' I find some areas in the state a little ah... strange. A big sign on the road outside of a small shop in Justin proclaimed 'camouflage lingerie - come on in and see it!'. If it was camouflage - how could you see it? Go figure. And what's with all of them 'boot scrappers' and what's that smell? We decided to go back to Dallas for supper. Actually I'm just kidding here - Justin is a nice little town rich in the Texas country life style - I confess I'm a city slicker (legal mumbo-jumbo).

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

It's not enough to go through the agony of trying to make the perfect decision of which aircraft, construction materials, etc. is right for you. There are still even more decisions to make. In the case of an RV which RV, do you go with a slider canopy or a tilt up, tail dragger or tri-gear (yes rumor has it that that may even be an option on the 9), electric trim controls or manual, if you put on identification lights what type and where will they be located? Beyond that are the avionics, instrumentation and the 'mother of all decisions' is the decision of which engine.

Ok I'm only starting my project, but I'm definitely going the electric trim instead of manual all the way around. So that means I need to order the electric elevator trim with the Empennage kit. I've also decided that I wanted the identification lighting enclosed in the wing tips with the landing lights so I ordered the rudder fairing set up for the rear facing white light.

On down the line, I'm leaning towards the slider canopy. My IP (instrument panel) is an incredible vision in my mind which fortunately has not had to connect with my wallet yet. I really like Greg Richter's Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS panel and that's my top dream. [See my canard resources under Greg's canopy mod for some more pics on this panel installed - I took the pics while at Oshkosh 2001.] Naturally part of that panel is going to have an auto-pilot for all of those x-country cruises we're planning. Greg's panel gives me a moving map system, but I'm also considering the 'Anywhere Map/Wx' / Compaq IPAQ system by Control Vision as a backup. Complete with weather and all of the other features of this versatile product.

Last but not... is the engine. It may be one of the last things to go on the aircraft but the decision of which engine must be made in some cases as early as the the building of the wing. Why the wing? Because if you install a diesel engine you must consider that diesel fuel or Jet-A will require a larger fuel cap than 100LL or auto-fuel. Its much easier to take this into account as you are building your fuel tanks/wings than need to retrofit it later.

When it comes to which engine should you should put in your blood, sweat and tears into, proponents of each faction approach this choice with a religious fervor. What are my real choices? Standard aircraft engines manufactured by Lycoming and Continental, auto engines converted to aircraft use and new generation engines like the Jabiru engines and turbo diesel engines.

How do the three types rate against each other...duck I'm about to offer an opinion (it's worth exactly what you paid for - ok you really should get some change back). The standard aircraft engines' advantage is a long documented history . Why is that important? Because this means the insurance companies have some way of determining statistically at what level of premium's they can profitably insure the owner. Because of this and other reasons, generally speaking the standard aircraft engine may have lower insurance rates. Most standard aircraft engines have a direct connection to the prop without any type of gear reductions (ok I'm not counting the old Cessna 175, the Merlin in the P-51, etc). This means aircraft engines generally develop their best power band at propeller speeds/rpm's. Aircraft engines can generally be repaired at most aircraft fields, should you find yourself in need of repair during a cross country. The problems of installing standard engines in many homebuilt aircraft is fairly straight forward (though not trouble free) and already worked out by Van's and many others. Van's has recently developed a firewall forward kit which includes all the extra components needed when installing a standard aircraft engine.

So what's the down side of a standard aircraft engine? COST leads the list. IF you are considering a new engine or you are faced with rebuilding an engine be prepared to have a thick wallet go thin. Compared to automobile engines parts for an aircraft engine are very expensive. Standard aircraft engines are basically old technology engines. You must, in most cases, adjust the fuel/air mixture at various phases in flight to maximize performance. You must also be concerned with adjusting the carb-heat in various phases of flight. Because it's air cooled you must watch for overheating on the taxi-way and the dangers of shock cooling when attempting to slow down from altitude at 185 miles per hour to landing pattern speeds (although a constant speed prop can overcome this problem). Most standard prop driven aircraft engines run on 100LL which will be going away. True many run on auto-fuel but this must be considered.

Ok so what about an auto engine converted to an aircraft application? Right off the bat auto-engines themselves are generally more advanced than aircraft engines. Many installations include computer control, fuel injection, auto fuel compatible, and they are water cooled. The advantage of water cooled means that you no longer have to worry about overheating when sitting on the taxiway or shock cooling when dropping down in speed and altitude to make a landing. Water cooling also means you have the opportunity to have a real heater for winter flying operations (only a frozen dream with standard aircraft engines). There are many different types of auto engine available for converting to an aircraft application. There are engine packages that go from total fire wall packages to unique homegrown installations. The more popular types of auto engines are rotary engines, Subaru engines and the V-6's and V-8s. For less horsepower application there are the VW engines (the VW's have many of the features of aircraft engines in that they are air-cooled but without the significant cost). See my links page under engines for a list of potential aircraft engines.

Now how about the new generation of engines? This possibilities run the gamut from turbo-diesels to the Jabiru's. The turbo diesels have an initial purchase cost about the same as a standard aircraft engine. However, they also burn diesel or Jet A fuel which should be around for a long time and definitely a cheaper fuel to burn. In all honesty these engines have been a year away from production for several years now and other than perhaps the Thielert Engines of Germany marketed by Superior Airparts of Dallas. The Jabiru is a more modern design and at a significant price difference. They've also built up a reputation for reliability and quality.