Why build the RV-10?
Finally Updated - 11/9/2006!
My RV-10 In Flight

The RV-10 is the latest of the Van's Aircraft kit fleet.  For years I had admired Van's RV-6 kits, as a fantastic plane that I'd love to own and fly.  They were fast, and could be built with simple aluminum working tools.  I took a demo ride, prepared to put down my money the next week.  It's shocking to say this, but I was disappointed.  The RV-6 is a beautiful plane, as are all of Van's kit planes.  But, I knew I was destined for a family in a short year or two, and the -6 demo ride showed me that it was impossible to think if it as a family plane.  It was extremely sensitive in the stick...something you wouldn't want a kid to kick with their feet, and worse yet, there was no place for the kid in the first place.  I decided to keep my eyes open for a good 4-place kit, but purchase something else in the meantime.

My purchase was a beautiful 1977 Sundowner that I purchased with my father in a partnership, with extremely low hours on the engine. Up until about OSH 2005, I was still flying that beautiful plane.  My kids were 3 and 5 towards the start of my RV-10 build.  (They're 5 & 7 now in 11/06) We owned that plane from 2000-2005, and traveling by plane in the Sundowner had given us some great experiences.  Both kids took their first trips within 5 weeks of birth.  For those of you with kids, the Sundowner is a fantastic plane.  It's beautiful in the way it flies, very stable, very precise, with great roll-rate....far better than any Cessna or Piper I've flown.  In fact, after flying my RV-10 for over 170 hours, I personally think the Sundowner (which is said to fly like a Bonanza) is very equal to the RV-10 in feel.  The RV-10 is also said to fly like a Bonanza, and I found the two very similar in many ways.  They both have extremely good forward visibility over the nose, and out all windows.  The only things lacking in the Sundowner for me were climb rate (about 800fpm), speed (about 112-115kts average) and the fact that the plane was built in 1977 and it wasn't legal for me to do all of my own maintenance.  The RV-10 doesn't have quite the baggage capacity of the enormous Sundowner, but with the extra speed (see below), it will absolutely get you there faster, which will require you to pack less "comfort" items to bear the trip.  For me, some of the largest benefits were that I can do my own maintenance (saving a LOT of money), I got to start fresh with a bare panel and fill it with all of the highest tech goodies I wanted (See my panel) , and the possibilities that were brought on by being able to travel cross-country at higher speeds.

After visiting OSH in 2004 and seeing the RV-10 for the first time (OSH pictures) I knew then and there that with it's performance specs, good looks, and freedom of maintenance, that the RV-10 was for me.  I started making plans to purchase one.  I still needed that extra push though...which I greatly owe to my buddy Rick.  He "let" me help rivet his RV-4 wing skins one night, and the was so absolutely nice that he "allowed" me to help rivet and proseal his fuel tanks, that I quickly realized that I could *DO* this plane building stuff.  That sold me for sure.  I decided to order the kit on Dec. 31, 2003, before the kit prices went up for 2004....an annual occurance.

My empennage and tailcone kit arrivedin late January 2004, and I began work.  Initially I saw such great progress (in appearance) that when I first drafted this writing, I was 450 man-hours into the project and thought I may possibly fly in 2005 sometime.  As it turned out though, while I could see some great progress in 450 hours, completing most of the tailcone and wings, even with a Quickbuild Fuselage I still had a long way to go before flight.   I pushed on with the build, while trying to maintain at least 2 or 3 nights per week, and many weekends.  There was at least 1 month, if not 2, that I didn't even work on the kit, preoccupied by summer activites or other things, but I tried to at least work a couple of evenings a week.  Having kids will definitely slow you down, but as I was able to prove to myself, it was still very possible.  In about 1.5 years time, I had got the plane to the point where I needed to paint it, wire it, put in interior, and do the entire panel.  Surprisingly, it was just before these late steps (about the time you put the windshield in), that I hit the halfway point in the build, from an hours perspective.   The good thing about this point though, was when you're actually getting ready for paint, your motivation goes WAY up, and that allowed me to pack in the 2nd half of the build into only 1/4 of the overall build time.  Yes, in 24.5 months, and about 1700 hours, I had a painted, interiored, and FLYING RV-10!   The only major/minor item left was the completion of the wheel fairings....which are a real downer if you do them after you first fly, as it's had to pull yourself back into the proper mental state for building when you have a FLYING RV-10 in your hanger. ;)  So with a total of about 1900 hours, my RV-10 was complete.  Since I had a QuickBuild fuselage, I probably saved 350-450 hours over what someone who goes all slowbuild would have.

For those of  you interested in building a kit for yourself, there are many differences between kits.  Van's is now doing lots of great matched-hole prepunched kits, so this RV-10 kit is the cat's meow in kit building.  No jigs are even required to build this kit.  I feel sorry for those old original kit builders who actually had to spend 5 or 6 years mining for bauxite, to be melted down into aluminum, just so they could get the materials with which to build their kits. (joking)  Before buying a kit, make sure you get to sit in one, preferrably fly in one, and you get to see not only the kit components, but the plans.  Van's did it right with the RV-10 Plans.  They're of the greatest quality of any of their kits.

As for the financial perspective on building a kit, I have an answer for those who ask "How much money does it take to build an RV-10".  My answer is,
"All of it."   Van's is well-known for having very reasonably priced kits.  For building most 2-seat RV's, it's not too hard to find inexpensive used engines, and other components, especially if you want a VFR, play-only, plane.  If you push towards IFR and long X/C flights though, the price climbs.   Although Van's doesn't seem to view it the way the -10 builders do, the RV-10 is really their perfect kit to build for long IFR X/C flights, with 4 seats, and plenty of speed and space.  Unfortunately for the pocketbook, this means the costs go up too.   The kit itself is currently selling for $36,180 slow-build, and $46,230 quick-build * 11/06 (an increase of about $2,000 over a couple years ago) .  Of course, that doesn't include the firewall forward kit, the engine, the instruments, the paint, the interior, or any of those other goodies.   Now here's an OLD statement I made during a previous writing.... "Depending on tastes, most builders will spend a minimum of  $75,000 to finish their -10, with probably a more likely figure being $100,000.   And there are many folks just like myself, who may end up in the $125-150K range when they're done, based on the advanced electronics they plan to load the panel with. "    Well, after finishing the project, I can defintely say that my estimates on cost are now significantly different.  You will be very hard pressed to complete an RV-10 kit for $90,000 or less, and to do that, you'll need to use an old engine or auto conversion, used prop, skip paint and some interior, and probably have a VFR only panel.   What is much more average among the current RV-10's being built, is having a plane that ends up costing between $130-175,000.  This is due to the fact that most builders are preferring the new Hartzell and MT props that perform better, the drastic increase in pricing of IO-540 engines that we've experienced since I bought mine,  the fact that many people don't paint their own planes, and the fact that many people don't want to tackle the entire wiring job including the panel.   It's certainly do-able to save some money, but I can tell you after building one, take what you expect to spend, and add on 30-40% and then get comfortable with that number....you'll be happier in the end.  Remember that building an airplane like the RV-10 is building a dream.  If you skimp along the way on something, and later regret it, it will cost you more to do it over later, so do it the way you want to do it in the end.

It's important that before you throw down too much of your cash on the kits, that you thoroughly think through the long-range payoff of the project.   Luckily, anyone who's serious about building a kit, can get into trying it out for the paltry sum of  a little over $3000 for the tail kit, and probably $2000-3000 in tools.   The wide range on the tools is because at $2000, you're going to be doing a bunch more work than at $3000....the biggest difference being the spendy "Pneumatic Rivet Squeezer".  The most reveled tool in any builders box.  Probably best to just toss down the $6000+ total on day one, and commit to the project.  You'll know soon enough if you can hack it, and if $6,000 is too much for you to throw away on trying out your hand at building, you probably shouldn't be building the -10 anyway.

Now that you've been scared away by the last paragraph, let's give you a little more motivation.  Consider you spend $125,000-$170,000 building an RV-10, what do you have?  You could buy more than 2, if not 3 of my Sundowner's for that price.   Well, you have a plane that's worth every penny and more of what you put into it, and will outfly pretty much anything that's brand new in it's price range.  Although the fit-and-trim might be better in a brand new Cirrus, you're really building a plane that handily competes with such quality planes....planes that cost $240-$365,000.  You may not have every last fancy option, but your value will be fantastic, and unlike buying a brand new production plane, you should have resale value that's high enough to recover all or more than your original costs.  Common sale prices of completed RV-10's are over $175,000, with nice EFIS equipped planes selling for even $50-70,000 more than that!

One other motivation that for some reason people these days really seem to be lacking is the "I can do it" motivation.  The RV-10 is definitely a kit that most anyone can build if they want to.  With it's awesome plans, it's far easier than any of the old kits.  And think a bit about the timing for building a kit.  Lots of retired folks build planes, but why not the younger ones.  Sure, flying is expensive, but so are most fun hobbies.  Just ditch the wastful spending and bad vices in your life, and start putting your money into something rewarding.  Do it now, before you age another year or two.  Commit.  You don't want to find yourself 60 years old, on your 3rd heart attack, not even eligible to GET a medical certificate, when you finally have worked out the time/money/balls to get building your own plane. (At least for people in that situation, you may be able to take advantage of Van's upcoming RV-12 when it comes out.)   If you have young kids, like me, surely you have duties to raise them, but your kids will definitely thank you many times over as they grow up, if you took the time to build a cool plane that you used to take them to all the corners of the continent in.  Just build in the off-hours, and do what it takes to get the plane done.  And if you're short on time, throw away the extra $10,000 and go Quickbuild.  As you can see from my project, the building goes pretty quick.  Enjoy!

As far as travels go, in our first season of flying our RV-10, we've managed to travel from Wisconsin on a few different trips.  We went to Sun-N-Fun 2006 in Florida, took a long weekend trip (only a 5 hour flight) to Yellowstone National Park, went down to Boone, IA for a quick RV fly-in,  zipped over (1 hour) to OSH 2006,  did another long weekend trip to Oregon (8+ hours) for Van's Aircraft Homecoming 2006, and then capped off the summer with our greatest flight yet....  We used the RV-10 to fly to Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta, over the Grand Canyon and into Las Vegas for the night, and then onto El Paso for the 2006 Land of Enchantment RV fly-in and a half-day trip into Mexico by foot, giving some great low IFR experience on the Chelton EFIS in our plane.  The kids find it to be a great way to travel, as they get far more uptight about a 4 hour car trip than an 8 hour plane ride, as there's so much more to see, and they get to watch movies in the plane.

Performance wise, we're absolutely thrilled with what we've built.  Looking below at Van's specs for their RV-10, N410RV, we're finding we're very much inline with what they are able to accomplish.  It should be noted that although a 235HP engine is listed below, we know of nobody yet who's gone that route, or the 210HP for that matter except for the factory plane, N220RV.   The IO-540 is proving to be a very nice efficient cross-country power supply.  With our well balanced Aerosport Power built IO-540, we're able to run our engine Lean of Peak EGT, which generally gives us about 165kts TAS give-or-take, on anywhere from 8.5 to 10.1 gallons per hour.  We can also meet the range specs listed below, and in fact on our recent flight from El Paso to home, we had over 1000nm range shown on our Chelton EFIS / with Grand Rapids EIS, while cruising Lean of Peak at 13,000'.  It's definitely got the right numbers to make the trip possible.  It should be noted that if you buy a carbureted engine, or don't have your engine built with balanced injectors, you'll probably end up flying about 5kts faster in cruise running Rich of Peak, but you'll be burning 13.5-14 gallons per hour doing it...so it does pay, at $4.00+ per gallon, to consider the advantages of a nice, injected engine, built by a reputable shop.

So that's an overview of my reasons for building, and the experience I had doing it, along with some flying experiences I've had.  If you check my portion of this website:  http://www.MyRV10.com/N104CD , you'll have lots of information and photos available during my build.  Going to the root of my site, at http://www.MyRV10.com , I try to keep links to other builders sites, photos of other builders works, and many tips on construction and maintenance for active builders.  It should be a good resource for anyone considering, or building/flying and RV-10.

Van's RV-10
Dimensions and Specifications
31' 9"
Wing loading (lb/sq. ft. @ gross)
24' 5"
Power Loading (lb/hp @ gross)
8' 11"
260 Hp Lycoming*
Wing Area (sq. ft.)
Hartzell c/s*
Empty Weight (lbs)
Fuel Capacity (U.S. Gallons / Litres)
60 / 230
Gross Weight (lbs)
Baggage (lbs)
* Builder's Choice.  The RV-10 is designed to accept engines from 210-260 hp.  Propeller choices include Hartzell 2-blade and MT 3-blade constant-speed props.

Performance with Hartzell Constant Speed Prop
Gross Weight, Statute Units
Engine (hp)
Empty Weight 1520 lbs. 1585 lbs. 1600 lbs.
Top Speed   (mph/kts)
197 mph /  172 kts
201 mph / 175 kts
208 mph / 181 kts
Cruise (75% @ 8000')
190 mph /  166 kts
190 mph / 165 kts
197 mph / 171 kts
Cruise (55% @ 8000')
170 mph / 148 kts
169 mph / 147 kts
176 mph / 153 kts
Stall Speed
63 mph / 55 kts
63 mph / 55 kts
63 mph / 55 kts
Takeoff Distance (ft)
Landing Distance (ft)
Rate of Climb (fpm)
1150 fpm
1221 fpm
1450 fpm
Ceiling (ft)
Range (75% @ 8000')
951 sm / 826 nm
883 sm / 767 nm
825 sm / 717 nm
Range (55% @ 8000')
1153 sm / 1001 nm
1070 sm / 930 nm
1000 sm / 869 nm
*235 HP Performance Estimated.

My favorite builders quotes

"When working out how much a project is going to cost, write down how much you think, then double it . . . .
 then throw the paper in the bin and just keep spending money until its finished!!"
-Scott Lewis
RV-10 40172 VH-DRS

"The world is divided into two kinds of people, those who spend a great
deal of time saving money, and those who spend a great deal of money saving time."
- Peter Cochrane

"Building an airplane is not one hugely expensive, monumentally difficult, and enormously time consuming task.
It is hundreds of hugely expensive, monumentally difficult, and enormously time consuming tasks in a series."
- Brian (9612S)

I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . . .
 Antoine de Saint-Exupry

 When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
—Leonardo DaVinci