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  • Writer's pictureJason Ellis

Building a Van's Aircraft RV-10

RV-10 three stack

If you have followed my blog or youtube channel at all then you know I’ve been taking flight lessons. I have been really enjoying it and can easily see myself doing a lot of flying. It’s an amazing sense of freedom and awesome way to travel.

Sense of freedom

The sense of freedom is the hardest thing to explain to people who simply don’t get it – but think of it this way;

When you were a little kid you likely weren’t allowed to leave the immediate area of your house or not go farther than the drive way.

When you got old enough, you got your first little trike or big-wheel and your range suddenly became exponentially larger! You could go all the way to the end of the block!

When you got older still and you got your first bicycle, suddenly you could go to your friends house or the local community pool or something.. Another exponential jump.

When you got to 16 or so, you got your first car! Suddenly your sense of freedom just expanded another exponential jump and you could drive long distances, though you likely didn’t.

As a grown adult, you know you can drive anywhere you want but most never do just due to the time involved.

Most people never experience the next level of exponential freedom, flying their own aircraft.

I’m so very ready for that next level of freedom! More over, I have found that once you start flying you very quickly start dreaming about owning your own aircraft that can take you all the places you want to go and/or perform “the mission.”

Defining the mission was key

The wife and I sat down and discussed (read: she told me) what the mission should be;

  1. I had to have a plane that could take me back and forth to Texas from north Georgia. (~800nm)

  2. I wanted to be able to make this trip in less than 6 hours.

  3. I wanted a plane that could take myself, my wife, two small dogs and some light luggage.

  4. I need to be comfortable sitting in it.

  5. I had to actually be able to afford said aircraft.

  6. And finally, I’m going to be a low time pilot. I need a plane that wont kill me.

Long distance

My mission was to be able to fly back and forth to Texas from my home in north Georgia – not a small mission to be sure. My company, her family, a lot of my friends..etc. are all in Texas. We aren’t. Getting back and forth right now means a ticket on Delta. Feh.

I wanted to be able to make this trip in a reasonable amount of time;

It takes me 16 hours to drive to Texas from my home in the mountains of north Georgia. Well that’s just too long.

Unfortunately, we are so far away from a major airport it takes me anywhere between 10 and 12 hours to fly commercially there on Delta. (3 hour drive to Atlanta. At least an hour and a half to get in to the airport from the parking lot, get checked in, wait in line for mandatory fondle by the TSA, and get to the terminal, hourish to wait for plane, to board plane to wait for push back.. 3 hour flight.. 30min to an hour to get to get off the plane, get to the baggage area, get bags, get to rental counter, get car..etc.. This all assumes it’s a straight flight, it’s usually not.) The longest I have had it take was 14 hours, the absolute shortest was just over 6.

The average amount of time seemed to pan out at around 10. I wanted to make that flight in under 6.

A four place plane for wife and “kids”

The majority of the time, it will likely be just me flying in the plane. But my wife made the point that if I’m going to get an aircraft, an expensive luxury item, I should get one that will do all the things. And one of those things was for us to be able to travel around the country as a couple. And that means, bringing the “kids.” The kids in this case are our two little dogs. That with some light luggage.

RV-10 Interior


I’m both tall, and wide. I need a plane I can sit in comfortably and to be completely honest, most aircraft I have been in are absolutely not comfortable at all. My flight instructors Cessna 172 is a workhorse, and will get ya from point A to point B (slowly) but not in anything remotely approaching comfort. It’s just too narrow. I have broad shoulders and I really don’t like being jammed up against that door, or my flight instructor.

I want a plane that can seat me and someone next to me without being physically pressed into the left door.


Yeah, this one was tough. I have pondered it quite a bit and struggled with how to afford said aircraft.

The more I looked the more I realized that this aircraft would have to be extremely beefy and large. That mean, expensive. Usually, very expensive. I needed to have an aircraft I could actually afford to own and fly.


Since I’m still a student pilot as of my writing this, I needed a plane that would be some what docile in the air and not be scary to my wife (or me).


I looked at all manner of aircraft;

  • Cessna High Wings

    • 150 - Scootie puff jr. of the sky. No thanks.

    • 152 - Way too small, and again slow.

    • 172 - Small, not comfortable, slow

    • 177 - Nice, but slow and with retracts insurance would likely be a problem for a low time pilot like me

    • 182 - Bigger, better, still kinda slow though with a higher fuel consumption

  • Cessna Low Wings

    • Corvalis - VERY nice, way too much plane for me. Too expensive new or used. This one would perform the mission perfectly.

  • Cirrus

    • SR20 - Very nice aircraft but too expensive new, and even a used one will set you back a fair amount.

    • SR22 - VERY nice, probably too much plane for me. Again too expensive new or used. This would do the trick though.

  • Pipers

    • All of the pipers I sat in were older and too cramped in side.

    • The larger newer pipers are too expensive

I can go on.. Most of the planes had something that just didn’t work one way or another. Too small.. Too slow.. Too old.. Too expensive to purchase or maintain..etc.

Enter kit planes

At some point during this process I came to the realization that buying an aircraft that could meet my #1 and #2 requirements (which were the most important ones to me) meant way too much money.

That’s when I started looking hard at home built aircraft and found the Velocity aircraft. What a sexy machine. I know nothing about fiberglass though and the more I looked at the Velocity line of aircraft there were things about them I didn’t care for either.

I decided to look elsewhere..

Van’s Aircraft

Eventually I landed on the Van’s Aircraft page and started looking hard at one of their kit planes.

At this point, I had decided to eschew the 4 place requirement entirely since the costs of all these airplanes were pretty high and build time was a factor. Focusing on the other 5 requirements, I decided on either the -9 or the new -14.

Enter my wife.

She plead her case and basically told me that if I’m going to do this.. do it right!

Her exact words were something to the effect of; “If you’re going to spend a lot of money, buy what will do everything we want.”

That’s my girl!

The -10 was the obvious choice.

It can easily make the 800nm trip in a single bound. Really your only limit is your bladder.

It can make the trip in about 5 hours.

It can easily hold myself, my wife, the two dogs and luggage.

I have sat in two of them now, both very comfortable.

I can totally afford one.

Everyone I know that has flown one says they are a dream to fly.

So there ya go! Decision made! Then after a month of yammering away about to my wife she made me shut up and buy the first piece.

This is going to be an epic journey to say the least.

Thanks …

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