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Single Seat
You wear this aircraft like a glove, an extension of your body. It's the only single-seat aircraft we've built for production.
It'll go upside down, no problem! And you'll have fun doing it, quickly and easily.
Everyone who flies it will tell you, it's a fun ship! Snappy, responsive, and goes right where you tell it to.


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, nor one with the shortest takeoff roll, nor one that would win an unlimited aerobatics title. He wanted an airplane that was “very good” at as many things as possible, even if it wasn’t necessarily the absolute best in any single category.

He succeeded.

If you enjoy fun, responsive, seat-of-your-pants flying — and doing it solo — there is simply no better way to do it than in an RV-3.

Single seat, well-balanced, harmonized flight. 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.


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 RV Grin starts with 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.

Please Note: The time from order to delivery of an RV-3 kit can be a number of months due to the limited production of this model, so be sure to contact Van’s to check on availability.

A Note About RV-3 Models and Wing Modifications

New sales of the original RV-3 were suspended in 1996. However, in response to popular demand, the updated RV-3B  — with a new wing spar design — was placed 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. 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 tie-downs are now simple units that bolt on to holes already in the spar.

Operating original RV-3/RV-3A aircraft in Aerobatic Category

SAFETY 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 and install new wing kits. Until implementation of the appropriate spar Change Notice, kit/aircraft owners are to 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 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.

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