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All First Flights

Joe Ovenden’s RV-7 | Tyabb, Victoria, Australia RV-7 #74466

Congratulations Joe!

I started my build in August 2015. First flight was on July 5th, 2022. Nearly a 7 year build time.
The kit was a slow build RV-7 with a slider canopy. I can’t thank my wife and daughters enough for all the support over the years. They have been a great help when you are building at home. My wife, and both of my daughters have helped in the construction of parts, especially when you need a second set of hands. There were other helpers also along the way, with either experience in building RV’s, or other aircraft, whose help was invaluable. Being part of Sport Aircraft Association of Australia, you get to have others look at your build and give constructive feedback to help you improve, or give you confidence along the way that you are doing an OK job of building.

I had always planned to fit a lightweight ground adjustable or fixed pitch propeller, so I installed the engine mount for an O-320 Lycoming, and fitted an IO-360 engine. This engine mount, designed for a lighter engine, is 2″ longer than the engine mount for the 360 Lycoming variants, therefore moving the centre of gravity forward to compensate for the light weight expected with the propeller. That change required a lot of modification of the bottom cowl section, to fit the larger engine.

Although it is an aluminum aircraft, there were many hours of fiberglass work to finish with the result I wanted. In the end, I fitted a GT Propellers, 3 bladed ground adjustable wood/composite propeller. The C of G ended up in the middle of the envelope, which was a good result.

I worked for PPG Industries during my build, so the paint is all PPG aerospace paints. The exterior paint is a new paint system aimed at the GA segment, that has not been actively released here in Australia, so when I heard about it, I offered for the PPG Aerospace business to use my aircraft for their technical application team to apply the product themselves. I am happy with the result. I am getting lots of compliments.
After years of cleco-ing aluminum pieces together, drilling and deburring, riveting, and all the blood (happens when you drill into your finger!), sweat and frustrations along the way, the first flight was definitely an experience to remember. To accelerate down the runway, take off and having the aircraft fly like an RV should, was a relief that it all worked out in the end. I am lucky that my aircraft is hangered with 2 other RV7’s, that the owners trust me to fly. This gave me the confidence to complete the first flight myself, which was such a great reward after all of the years of work. So where to now??? 25 hours of Phase 1 flight testing to complete on the aircraft. Get to know how it behaves in all phases of flight. Fine tune parameters so at the end, I have a safe aircraft for taking passengers, touring this great country, and turning myself upside down, because that’s fun.

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