Van's Aircraft RV-4

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Role RV-4
Manufacturer Van's Aircraft
Designer Richard VanGrunsven
First flight August 1979
Introduction 1980
Number built 1430 (December 2018)[1]
Unit cost
Developed from Van's Aircraft RV-3

The Van's RV-4 is an American light homebuilt aircraft supplied in kit form by Van's Aircraft of Aurora, Oregon. It seats two people in a tandem seating configuration with the pilot accommodated in the front seat.[2]

The Van's RV series has become the most popular kit-built aircraft in the world. The RV-4 is the second most popular RV model, outsold only by the now discontinued RV-6.

As of November 2014, 1372 RV-4s had been completed and flown worldwide.[1]


Richard VanGrunsven designed the RV-4 in the mid 1970s as a two-seat development of the single-seat RV-3. The RV-4 prototype first flew in August 1979.

The RV-4 is a new design based upon the concepts proven in the RV-3 and is not merely a stretched RV-3. The RV-4 airframe will accept a range of engines up to 180 hp (134 kW), including the Lycoming O-360. The RV-4 has a new wing, with increased wingspan and wing area over the RV-3. The RV-4 is designed for sport aerobatics.

Van's Aircraft RV-4 at Kemble Airfield, England.
Van's Aircraft RV-4
Cockpit of an RV-4 in 2006.

The RV-4 has proven to be a capable cross country aircraft in service, able to carry two modest sized people and baggage on longer trips. RV-4s have been flown around the world, notably by an Australian, Jon Johanson, who completed world-girdling RV-4 flights on two occasions.

Many larger people find the RV-4 cockpit design physically constraining, and as a result VanGrunsven has designed an entire family of derivative designs. The RV-6 was designed to allow side-by-side seating, and the RV-8 was created as an enlarged aircraft that follows the RV-4's philosophy and offers tandem seating in a bigger aircraft.

Unlike most later RV series designs, RV-4 kits are only available with conventional landing gear, although some may have been constructed in tricycle configuration by builders. At least two RV-4s have also been built with retractable landing gear (mostly for the engineering challenge, as the performance gains were modest).


Basic version
Harmon Rocket
Higher performance derivative of the RV4, with clipped wings, a 300 hp (224 kW) Lycoming IO-540 engine and a razorback turtledeck.[3]

Specifications (Typical RV-4)[edit]

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b Vans Aircraft (December 2018). "First Flights". Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  2. ^ Vandermeullen, Richard: 2011 Kit Aircraft Buyer's Guide, Kitplanes, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2011, page 74. Belvoir Publications. ISSN 0891-1851
  3. ^ Harmon Rocket Specifications and Performance

External links[edit]