Skip to content
Smooth and Fast
The narrow design and small size mean aerodynamic efficiency. With top speeds well over 200 miles per hour, you will get there - smooth and fast.
Short Field Ops
Grass strips and short runways? Sure. It's not too uncommon for a Super Cub pilot to look over and see an RV-4 landing. Many other airplanes can't do that, but RV's can.
Aerobatics
The RV-4 has been flown in aerobatic competitions for years. It makes a great platform for weekend aerobatics, too. But please, get proper instruction!

Overview

The all-around capabilities of the RV-4 are impressive. Fast, agile and fun, pilots of the RV-4 find it’s glove-like fit to feel like a natural extension of their bodies. The RV-4 has taken part in a variety of performance competitions over the years, from the National Championship Air Races to a variety of aerobatic competitions. In the photo on the right, Axel Alvarez pilots his fast RV-4 around the pylons at the air races in Reno. Several RV-4 pilots have also successfully competed in organized aerobatic competitions, scoring well against specialty aerobatic airplanes.

The RV-4 turns 4o years old in 2019! While many of our newer kits are purchased in greater numbers these days, the RV-4 remains a venerable and iconic part of the RV family of aircraft. You can, of course, still order a kit (although lead times for delivery may be extended on this model due to limited production schedules) and people still finish and fly their RV-4s on a regular basis.

RV-4
Two-place. Tandem. With the "little wheel" on the tail end. High-performance and well-balanced, the RV-4 is a fun machine.

Highlights

The RV-4 holds two people and a moderate, but useable, amount of baggage. The seating is compact, but still comfortable. It is flown from the front seat only, but the kit includes a stick for the rear-seater so he or she can share the fun. It is designed for engines of 150-160 horsepower, although engines as small as 125 hp and as large as 180 work well and are commonly installed.

Some have used their RV-4s for sport of a different kind — flying regularly into backcountry strips for fishing and recreation. More than one SuperCub pilot has been startled to land at an out-of-the-way mountain strip and find an RV-4 already there.

The RV-4 is also an excellent cross-country machine. Many couples routinely use the airplane as their long distance “time machine.” The ability to land at any small airport means they can get where they really want to go, not just to the nearest big-city airport. The RV-4 takes them to fly-ins, reunions, vacations, and to visit the kids and grandkids. Distance is not usually a problem. An RV-4 is capable of crossing half of North America in a day!

Van’s has been supplying and improving kits for RV-4 for almost 40 years and it has become one of the most popular kit aircraft in the world. Thousands of examples have flown in countries all over the globe, and new ones continue to fly regularly. If ever a personal airplane has stood the test of time, it is the RV-4.

Please Note: The time from order to delivery of an RV-4 kits can be a number of months due to very limited production of this model, so be sure to contact Van’s to check on availability.

History

Soon after the single-seat RV-3 was introduced, it became obvious that a lot of people wanted to share their RV Grin with a friend. Van realized that he wasn’t going to be able to talk them into building two RV-3s, so he set out to design a two-place airplane that performed and handled as much like the RV-3 as possible.

The RV-4 was an entirely new design. A poll of prospective customers taken in the early 1970s showed a strong preference for tandem seating. This suited Van as well, as it places the pilot on the centerline and keeps frontal area to a minimum. He knew that a bigger, heavier airplane could never perform and handle quite as well as small, light one, but when the RV-4 first flew in August, 1979 the results were even better than he’d dared dream. The top speed was only 10 mph less than the speedy RV-3, and the handling qualities, so difficult to define, were virtually identical.

In the years that followed, the RV-4 became an icon in the world of experimental aviation.

You can view a virtual 360-degree cockpit tour of the RV-4 prototype, which is on display at the EAA Museum, by clicking the image below (opens in a new window). And if you pan to the right in the tour, you’ll even be able to see the original RV-3, and the plane that started it all: the RV-1.

360 degree virtual cockpit tour of the original RV-4 prototype aircraft at the EAA museum