I wasn't planning on attending Sun 'n Fun
this year up until about a week before it started, when plans abruptly changed.
My planned absense
was due to the fact that I'm about to start working on a
RV-7A, so even if I did have money coming out my ears a few months ago (unlikely),
it's even less likely to be the case now that I just mailed Van's a check for a
RV-7A Quickbuild Kit.
Also, time off from work would be difficult to get for the
entire airshow, as I'm taking a week off in May to go build the RV empennage at the
in Griffin, GA.
As it turned out, a few RVers in the area
were planning to go down for part of the airshow and were looking
for someone to tag along and help pay for the gas.
Hence, I had the opportunity to get a ride in the back seat of Doug
Preston's RV-8. Doug was just planning to go down for the final weekend of the
airshow, and as that didn't require much time off work, I was willing to raid the
piggy bank to go. (I should point out that I've never been to either
Lakeland or Oshkosh
before. Also I've never gotten to ride in an RV-8, and never been on this long
a cross-country in any general aviation aircraft.
Any way you slice it,
this was an entirely new experience.)
In any case, Doug's RV-8:
photo courtesy Doug Preston
General impressions and observations about the show are at the
bottom of the page. However,
if you want to skip directly to the pictures (which is probably
more interesting anyway) and associated commentary this would
be the place you could do that. It made a lot more sense to group these
by topic instead of in chronological order. Have fun, but be careful
of the load times -- some of these involve lots of pictures.
- Trip Down on 16 April (Friday).
We flew down in the company of two other RVs (a 6 and a 6A).
- RVs on the flightline -
Page 1, and here's
there were lots of these. Pictures of RVs, their corresponding
panels, and a couple Team RV formation pictures. (A few Harmon Rockets
snuck in here too.)
- Assorted Van's Stuff - their booth,
demo planes (and panels), pictures from the Van's Sun 'n Fun Banquet and
their RV seminar on Saturday.
- Warbirds - on the ground.
All of the pictures of warbirds in the air are in the next section, which is . . .
- Misc. -
- all the stuff that
I couldn't fit in any other category - airshow pictures, vendors, etc.
- Trip Back on 18 April (Sunday).
We flew back in the company of a newly finished RV-7A, and this time put
more energy into getting some nifty air-to-air shots than we did on the
- Here are a few
panoramic shots. Clicking on these makes 'em bigger, but watch out -
they are pretty
big. Thanks to my buddy Nate Lewis (the resident graphics whiz)
for stitching these together digitally:
Panorama of the homebuilt section of the flightline. RVs are center right.
What I Learned
Well, this was a blast. Sensory overload! How many times do you get to see
the Goodyear Blimp, a formation of RVs, and a couple of F-16s share the same
chunk of sky? I saw all three of those in my first five minutes
on the ground,
so I was a bit overwhelmed. In any case,
things that I learned and highlights from
- Experimentals are really where it's at, it seems. Perhaps it's easy to walk away
from Sun 'n Fun with this impression just because of the interests of the people that
run it, but I really think it's true anyway when you look at price/performance
ratios for these airplanes, booths where the most people
are spending the most time, and new products being introduced.
- The Avery Tools folks
are very cool. I got to talk to both the Cleveland Tools people
and the Avery Tools people (both of whom had very nice things to say about each
other, actually), and wound up getting the RV set of tools from Avery Tools.
However, these didn't come home with us in the RV-8.
- It was really neat to meet people that I've read about in the RV
community. The same
thing happened with airplanes - suddenly airplanes that have their picture
in the RV calendar or in EAA's Sport Aviation are sitting there. That was
- I've heard stories about how cool the (largely unofficial and undocumented)
support network among RV builders is, but before this show I hadn't really had
much personal experience with it though I've sort of seen it in action.
I started to see that as I met multiple
people who offered to answer questions and help me out once I'm in the
middle of this project.
- It's really amazing how many RVs are out there, and consequently, how
many vendors have RVs in mind when they design their product. More the one
of the vendors that I walked up to said "Oh, yeah, I built an RV" when I told
them I was planning to build a -7A. That's neat.
introduced a new engine monitor at the show. Pictures and a blurb
about it are on
Misc - Page 1. I really like this
- The RV is an amazing airplane if you want to go long distances. I had
really wondered about this - I was worried about noise levels.
This turned out to not be a problem if you've got a
good ANR headset.
Things brings us to our next point,
which is . . . .
- Active noise reduction headphones are really a necessity in an RV. I know
this now because the batteries died in my set on the way down, and I had to
raid one of the portable GPS units for spares. (The more I think about it,
though, I think it's more the case that after you get used to an ANR headset,
it's a necessity in just about any airplane.)
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