Oh crap, I took a $40k free ride…   October 31st, 2005

As of this writing, I’ve been a private pilot for about a year. About three months ago, after renting C152 and C172’s for $80-$100 an hour, I saw these cool looking planes from a company called “Van’s aircraft.” Not only were they cool looking, but flew about twice as fast as my old rental planes. And they cost around $40-$60k depending on the equipment (a new Cessna C172 runs about $200k). One catch though… You’ve gotta build these suckers yourself!!

And so it began…I started reading everything I could find about Van’s Aircraft. I joined the EAA and my local chapter. I picked what I thought would be the right plane for me.. the RV-9A. I even ordered the preview plans.

The Preview Plans is a three ring binder with every drawing, instructions, etc., that come with the kit, except shrunk down to fit in a binder. Along with the preview plans came a list of all the builders around my area.

So, I found someone who had a flying RV-9A in the area, and gave the gentleman a call. He lives about 40 miles from my home, and I offered to drive out and meet him at his airport for a demo ride. I also offered to pay him for half his gas (as allowed by law). He said he’d just fly over to my airport, and wouldn’t take any gas money.

After rescheduling two or three times because of weather, I finally met Mr. Dar Esh at the Georgetown Airport. He showed me pictures of the building process, and then we did a quick pre-flight check of the airplane. We got in, started it up, and told me I would be performing the take off. I said something like “I have a feeling this is going to be a bit different from my C152..Are you sure?”. “Don’t worry, I won’t let you break my neck” he replied with a smirk.

As we taxied to the runway, I was impressed at how easy it was to steer the plane, almost without touching the brakes at all. We then did a runup, and lined up for departure. I pushed the throttle and we started rolling. At about 60mph (I think) I started pulling back, and we jumped into the air! (and this exact moment my friends, is why I, Mr. Cheapass, don’t mind paying 90 bucks an hours to fly a 20 year old C152).

We were climbing at around 80knots (pretty normal for a C152), but Dar kept telling me to ease off on the stick a little, because we were climbing too steeply. I looked at the instruments, and sure enough, we were climbing at some amazing number of feet-per-minute. So, I pushed forward until Dar was happy, and we ended up climbing at around 1200fpm, going around 100kts. If you’ve ever flown a C152 you know why I was (still am) so hung up on this :-).

The rest of the flight was equally impressive. We did two or three touch-and-go’s, steep turns, etc. This was an AMAZING plane. Comfortable, LOTS of visibility (with a sliding canopy), FAST, and easy to fly.

After we landed, I thanked Dar and went home to read some more. On the way home I kept thinking “Oh Crap, I think this little ride just cost me 40 grand…”

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