When Van put pencil to paper on his first airplane design, he coined the phrase "Total Performance" to describe his objective. He wasn't trying to build the fastest airplane, or one with the shortest takeoff roll, or win an unlimited aerobatics title. He wanted an airplane that did as many things well as possible, even if it wasn't the absolute best in any one category.
The RV-3 is fast. It will easily top 200 miles per hour on 150 horsepower. Even on smaller engines it will cruise at three miles a minute. But speed is only part of the equation. The first thing that starts the RV Grin is the takeoff roll and climb. It doesn't take long to get airborne! The climb rate is exhilarating. In the air, the RV-3 is a joy. The controls are smooth, powerful, and almost perfectly harmonized. Sport aerobatics are delightful. Flying an airplane that handles this precisely and easily is a new experience for pilots used to flying production airplanes – and even to some used to flying fighters…
Landings are straight forward. Simple hinged flaps, an effective wing, and excellent low speed handling let the RV-3 land at almost any airport, and the rugged steel rod landing gear can handle a variety of surfaces; dirt, gravel, grass or pavement. Many RV-3 owners keep their airplanes on private strips at home…. some of them as short as 700 feet!
Despite the fact that it was designed as a sport airplane, the RV-3 has proven a capable cross-country traveler. The fuel capacity allows practical distances, the cockpit is big enough for pilots up to about 6' 3", and there is enough baggage space to carry a reasonable amount of "stuff." The speed, climb rate and STOL performance all enhance the cross-country ability, too. Headwinds don't hurt as much, there's no more grinding around in circles trying to get high enough to get out of mountain valleys, and almost any flat spot can serve as an emergency landing strip.
If you enjoy flying, and flying solo, there is no better way to do it than in an RV-3.
The RV-3 Returns
New sales of the RV-3 were suspended in 1996. However, in response to popular demand, the RV-3B with a new wing spar design is now back on the market. The empennage, fuselage, and finishing kits are essentially unchanged, however, the wing kits are new, and are available in two types: new and retro-fit. Builders also will have a choice between standard and QuickBuild wings, regardless if for a new project or retrofitting to an existing plane.
The difference between new and retro-fit spars is that some holes are left un-drilled in the retro-fit version so they may be matched to holes in the existing structure. Retro-fitting will mean removing the current fuselage center section and replacing it with the new one. While this may sound like major surgery, it is actually easier than trying to drill a spar accurately to a center section in an existing airplane.
The new RV-3B spars use four-piece construction, are gold anodized, and come completely assembled. New RV-3B wings have standard 15 gallon per side wing tanks, attached to the spar with screws and bolts so they may be removed for repair without taking a wing off the fuselage. Standard kit wing skins are not pre-punched. Bellcranks and tiedowns are now simple units that bolt on to holes already in the spar.
The RV-3B QuickBuild wings are similar in form to the RV-8/8A QuickBuild wings. They arrive with flaps and ailerons complete, tanks sealed and tested, leaving the builder only to add aileron brackets, flap braces, wing tips, and one outboard skin to complete the wing.
"Light, fast, nimble, and possessing remarkable short field capabilities, the RV-3 is the airplane responsible for the original "RV Grin" – the expression found on the face of every pilot after his or her first flight in an RV."
NOTICE: In order to operate RV-3/3A aircraft with pre-RV-3B wing designs in the aerobatic category, the owner must either complete appropriate spar Change Notices or purchase new wing kits. Until implementation of the appropriate spar Change Notice, kit/aircraft owners should comply with Van's Aircraft's previously published March 1996 flight recommendations:
"RECOMMENDATION: Until the spar modification is performed, we recommend that the RV-3 pilots immediately limit their flight G loads to a maximum 4.4 G's; utility category. Based on our test results of an ultimate load of 7.3 G's, a 50% over-strength margin would permit a flight limit load of 4.9 G's at a gross weight of 1050 lbs. Since the 4.9 G's is below the 6 G specification for the aerobatic category, no aerobatic maneuvers should be performed. Dropping back farther to utility category flight will offer an additional margin of safety."
A logbook entry should be made prohibiting aerobatics until one of the Change Notice spar modifications listed below is accomplished and the aircraft should also be placarded with an "aerobatic limitations" placard
(Van's part number: PLA AEROBATIC LIMITS):
Change Notices (Van's part numbers):
CN-301 TYPE I (1/8 inch thick spar bar stock with 1/8 inch rivets)
CN-301 TYPE II (3/16 inch thick bar stock with 3/16 inch rivets)
Please Contact Van's for more details.
Van's Aircraft will offer substantial discounts to those who are purchasing the retrofit wing versions for an existing RV-3 project or flying aircraft.