First Kit DONE!

Fiberglass work was actually pretty interesting and fun. I was a little bit afraid of how it was going to work, but I feel the results are good. I started by trimming the horizontal stabilizer tips and filling the rear part of them. Now after it is done, I feel I could have created a narrower gap between the tips and elevators.

Fitting the elevator and rudder tips was pretty simple. I used my heat gun to adjust them on some places, and a little bit more may be required once all parts come together on the airplane as I saw some minor misalignment once I riveted them in place.

The last piece I worked on was the rudder bottom piece. I decided to go with the flyleds DIY nav/led/landing lights kit. As a result I just bought the tailight/ strobe and fitted it in place. I also used epoxy to secure the support inside the fairing. The last thing I did was add extra fabric and epoxy inside at the join line between the too halves of each fiberglass tip fairing for a little more support.

The final result:

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Rudder – 1

I started working on the rudder right after finishing the HS. It has been pretty straight forward until now. The first step was to trim and prepare the stiffeners. It is pretty awesome to see how the pre-punched holes only align in a specific way. It makes it really easy to get it right even for me:). Back riveting is the easiest way of getting good results no doubt about it!.

Once I had both skins ready I started to work on the structure. It took me a little bit of time to totally understand how the bottom part of the rudder goes together. Once I got it, preparation is basically the same that I’ve been doing on previous parts.

I’m done to the point where I have to start riveting the trailing edge. I bonded it with T-88 epoxy as mentioned on the instructions. I’ve been waiting for it to cure a couple of days, while I also order some rivets and an extra bucking bar to reach some pretty tight places near the trailing edge.

Last Friday I met another builder, Paul, who came from Cleburne, TX to check on my project. We had a pretty cool conversation sharing ideas and experiences. I hope to be down there visiting him pretty soon. If you want to check his work, he has a pretty cool builders blog here!.

Empennage

Finally after all the prep work I was able to order the empennage sub-kit. It was actually pretty easy and it only took 5 days to arrive from Oregon to Texas. It came packaged in two medium size boxes.

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Empennage as unloaded from the FedEx truck

After inspecting the boxes for damage I decided to open them and take a look at what was inside. It is really amazing how all the parts can fit on such a small pair of boxes.

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Box with all the big Aluminum pieces

Once everything was out, my wife and I spent around two hours and inventoried the parts. After everything was counted and in order only one small nut was missing. Van’s ask the builder to check the inventory within 30 days of receiving it to make sure that everything is right. If parts are missing they will get them to you.

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Bags of small parts

Everything was put back together, and will be stored in the next couple of days. I’m still waiting on some tools, and working on some small details in the shop before I can start the building process.

 

Why an RV (9A)?

In my not too long -or exiting- life as a pilot I’ve flown just a handful of aircraft types. Like many of you all my training has been done on the awesome Cessna 172. I’ve flown the M, N, R, S and SP series with round dials and G1000. For a short period of time I got to fly a Mooney M20E and really enjoyed every minute of it. Also got some time on C-206 and gliders (Ask-21 and SGS 2-33s).

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YV 111E the first airplane I ever flew

Around 10 years ago I had a conversation with someone who introduced me to the experimental world while talking about how much he wanted to build a Lancair. That conversation remained in my memory, and every once in a while I would do some research about experimental aviation, homebuilts, kits, etc.

Fast forward around 7 years I came to the USA to get my master’s degree at Embry-Riddle, and got to actually get involved in the amazing world of general aviation here. I started attending airshows like Sun n Fun and visiting the infamous Spruce Creek flying Community on most Fridays during the summer to watch residents perform formation flying and such, while just hanging around with awesome people.

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Flying the 2-33 in Florida

At that time I started to play with the idea of building my own airplane. Looking at different options I came across beautiful designs like Rutan’s Vary EZ or the Cozy (you can find a cool story about a “twin cozy” built at my home country here) but even though fiberglass is a proven method to build airplanes I always felt that aluminum was a better option for me.

That decision led me to start looking at other kits, and from a google search I landed at the online mecca of RV airplanes, vansairforce.com. Once I realized the magnitude of the community, the amount of airplanes already built, and all the support around them (not the same, but reminded me of my VW restorations and what thesamba.com meant to me at the time) I knew that If I was going to build an airplane, a Vans Aircraft RV was going to be one of the possible options.

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My last VW project, a 1960 DC and my wife’s 1997 bug

Looking at the different airplanes that Vans offer my first option became the RV-10, a beautiful four seater. There are a lot of nice RV-10s flying already, and I found some amazing blogs and videos of many of them. The more I learned about, the more I liked it, but I also realized that the amount of money needed is a lot more than what I can actually put into it in a reasonable amount of time.

At first that realization kind of frustrated me, but thinking about other options I started to look more in depth into the RV-9A. Even though a two seater, the airplane offers a lot of the things that are part of “my mission” at a lower cost. It is a pretty fast airplane with good performance, and all that can be achieved with a reasonable sized engine. Fuel consumption and operation costs are lower, which in return should help ownership in the long run.

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RV-9A – Something like this may be in my  future

This was basically the journey I went through to finally decide on building an RV-9A. There were many other things that had to happen for me just to be able to seriously consider this project, and I know that many more will need to align to be able to finish it ( if I ever start!).

What is this blog about?

The idea behind this blog is to keep track of how the build is going. I have played with different ideas to keep track of progress in previous projects, and sadly most of what I shared is not available anymore (my bad). If you are interested in looking at some old things I’ve done, this is a good one!.

I’m at a pretty early stage on this journey, basically just dreaming and researching how it could be acomplished, but with the goal of deciding soon if I could do it or not.  Keep checking in, I will share how things are going!.

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