Cirrus VK-30

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VK-30 outside the Florida Air Museum in 2006
Role Amateur-built airplane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Cirrus Design
Designer Alan and Dale Klapmeier, Jeff Viken
First flight 11 February 1988
Introduction 1987[1]
Produced 1988–1993
Number built about 13
Unit cost
$64,000 USD (Airframe kit without engine in 1995)
Cirrus Design VK-30 on ramp in Baraboo, c. 1988
Cirrus VK-30 on display in 2016

The Cirrus VK-30 is a single-engine pusher-propeller homebuilt aircraft originally sold as a kit by Cirrus Design (now called Cirrus Aircraft), and was the company's first model.[2]

As a kit aircraft, the VK-30 is a relatively obscure design with few completed aircraft flying. Its most important legacy is that the work done on developing and marketing the aircraft convinced the designers, the Klapmeier brothers, that the best way to proceed in the future was with a more conventional layout and with a certified production aircraft. Thus the lessons of the VK-30 were directly responsible for the design of the Cirrus SR20 and SR22, which have been the best-selling general aviation airplanes in the world every year since 2003.[3][4][5][6] The VK-30 also served as a significant inspiration for the creation of the company's latest aircraft, the Cirrus Vision Jet,[7][8] which in 2018 won the Collier Trophy for becoming the first single-engine personal jet with a whole-plane parachute recovery system.[9]

Design and development[edit]

The VK-30 design was conceived in the early 1980s as a kit plane project by three college students, Alan Klapmeier and Jeff Viken from Ripon College in Wisconsin, and Alan's brother, Dale Klapmeier, who was attending the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Jeff Viken's wife, Sally, designed the VK-30's flap system. Together, in the Klapmeiers' parents' barn in rural Sauk County, Wisconsin,[10] they formed Cirrus Design as the company to produce the VK-30 (VK standing for Viken-Klapmeier).[1][2]

The aircraft has an all-composite construction and was designed to achieve natural laminar flow over the fuselage as well as the wing and tail surfaces to provide for very low drag—using a NASA NLF(1)-0414F airfoil. The prototype incorporated some parts from production aircraft, including the nose gear from a Piper Cherokee and the main landing gear from a Lake LA-4. The VK-30 was designed to be a five-seat aircraft from the start, which made it considerably larger than most other amateur-built aircraft of its day. It incorporated a mid-engine design, driving a three-bladed pusher propeller behind the tail through an extension shaft. The powerplant was a Continental IO-550-G developing 300 hp (224 kW).[2][11]

The VK-30 was introduced at the 1987 EAA Oshkosh Convention and first flew on 11 February 1988. Kit deliveries commenced shortly thereafter.[2]

Cirrus discontinued production of the VK-30 towards the end of 1993.[12]

In 1996 the company announced plans to develop a stronger replacement wing for about 28 VK30s supplied to past customers.[12]

Operational history[edit]

Cirrus delivered about 40 kits, and built four additional factory prototypes.[1][13] The company estimated that there were 13 customer VK-30s completed. As of 11 February 2018, four were still registered with the Federal Aviation Administration in the US, although at one time a total of 12 had been registered.[2][14]


Cirrus-Israviation ST50 at the Paris Air Show in 1997
Cirrus/Israviation ST50

The VK-30 was the predecessor of the Cirrus ST50, which had an almost-identical configuration to the VK-30, but included a larger ventral fin on the tail of the aircraft, a slightly larger fuselage, and was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135 turboprop engine in place of the piston engine used in the VK-30. Cirrus designed and initially developed the aircraft under contract to an Israeli aircraft manufacturer named Isravation, and first flew it in Duluth, Minnesota in 1994. Isravation attempted to certify and market the ST50 in the proceeding years but it never entered production by the company.[7][8][13][15]


Between 1990 and 2019, seven US-registered VK-30s crashed, with a total of ten fatalities.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

On 22 March 1996, retired astronaut Robert F. Overmyer died at age 59 in the crash of an Allison turbine-powered VK-30. He was testing the aircraft for stall recovery characteristics at aft center of gravity limits when the aircraft departed controlled flight.[12][16]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Specifications (VK-30)[edit]

Data from EAA AirVenture Museum[26]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One (pilot)
  • Capacity: Four passengers
  • Length: 26 ft (7.9 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 8 in (12.09 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
  • Wing area: 126 sq ft (11.7 m2)
  • Empty weight: 2,400 lb (1,089 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,600 lb (1,633 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,600 lb (1,633 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental IO-550-G horizontally opposed piston engine, 300 hp (220 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 247 mph (398 km/h, 215 kn) at sea level
  • Range: 1,300 mi (2,100 km, 1,100 nmi)
  • Rate of climb: 1,500 ft/min (7.6 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 28.6 lb/sq ft (140 kg/m2)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Gustafson, David. "The Klapmeier Brothers - Homebuilts to Factory Builts" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f EAA Aviation Center (n.d.). "Cirrus Design Corporation VK-30 – N33VK". Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  3. ^ Flying Staff (August 26, 2013). "Rare Airplanes in Flight". Flying Magazine. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  4. ^ Durden, Rick (21 February 2014). "2013: A Good Year for Cirrus". AVweb. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ Cirrus Aircraft News (February 11, 2015). "Cirrus Aircraft Deliveries in 2014 Drive Strongest Performance in Six Years". Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  6. ^ General Aviation Manufacturers Association (2017). "2016 General Aviation Statistical Databook & Industry Outlook" (PDF). Retrieved 21 October 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b Huber, Mark (August 2016). "Cirrus's Vision SF50". Business Jet Traveler. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  8. ^ a b Huber, Mark (September 2016). "The $2 Million Personal Jet". Barron's. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  9. ^ Grady, Mary (4 April 2018). "Collier Trophy Goes To Cirrus Jet". AVweb. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  10. ^ Airport Journals Staff (January 2007). "Cirrus Design's Alan and Dale Klapmeier: "Dumb Enough to Start and Smart Enough to Finish"". Airport Journals. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  11. ^ Lednicer, David (October 2007). "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
  12. ^ a b c Warwick, Graham (April 1996). "Former astronaut killed in Cirrus VK30 test crash". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  13. ^ a b Aerofiles: Aircraft Ca to Ci Retrieved 24 July 2011
  14. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (12 February 2018). "Make / Model Inquiry Results". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Cirrus ST50 First Flight". Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  16. ^ a b National Transportation Safety Board (March 1996). "NTSB Identification: CHI96FA116". Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  17. ^ Panzar, Javier (11 February 2018). "Pilot and his family, including 9-year-old granddaughter, killed when small plane crashes near Agua Dulce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  18. ^ National Transportation Safety Board. "Aviation Accident Final Report". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  19. ^ National Transportation Safety Board. "Aviation Accident Final Report". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  20. ^ National Transportation Safety Board. "Aviation Accident Final Report". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  21. ^ National Transportation Safety Board. "Aviation Accident Final Report". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  22. ^ National Transportation Safety Board. "Aviation Accident Final Report". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  23. ^ Air Zoo (12 May 2017). "The newest addition to the Air Zoo collection landed today!". Facebook. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Adopt-a-Plane". Air Zoo. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  25. ^ Steen Aero Lab (April 2006). "Event Reports - Sun 'N Fun 2006". Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  26. ^ EAA Aviation Center (n.d.). "Cirrus VK-30 Specifications". Retrieved 2008-02-10.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cirrus VK-30 at Wikimedia Commons