Saturday 20 May 2017

Vans RV 8s of New Zealand

Dick Van Grunsven started off by designing his single seat RV 3 in the late 1960s and it was so successful that he was begged to design a two seat version which became the RV 4.  Then as seems to happen with all things American, people wanted a bigger RV 4 which turned out to be the RV 8.  The RV 8 has many improvements over the RV 4 including a bigger cockpit, matched hole kits (and you can get a Quick Build RV 8 kit), extra baggage capacity, and larger engines can be used.  However Vans Aircraft still produces both RV 8 and the RV 4 kits.  The RV 4 is marginally faster on the same horsepower and it is claimed to have slightly sweeter handling.  You can tell and RV 8 from an RV 4 by the sliding canopy and the smoother engine cowls (the RV 4 has a flip over canopy and cowl cheeks).

The RV 8 is 21 feet long (6.40 metres), the wingspan is 24 feet (7.32 metres) and the wing area is 116 square feet.  Empty weight is around 1,120 pounds (508 Kg) and MAUW is 1,800 pounds (816 Kg).  Engines can be from 150 to 200 HP, giving a top speed of over 200 mph.

We have had 7 RV 8s in New Zealand to date as detailed below in order of registration.  There is an RV 8A tri-gear model but we haven't had any in New Zealand to date. 

Our first RV 8 was ZK-KCA (c/n 80988) which was registered to Air Charter Taupo (1995) Ltd (Arthur Whitehead) on 22/1/03.  It is photo'd above at Taupo early on in its life in 2003.  It is still based at Taupo.

Next came Phil(ip J) Higgins' ZK-PJH2 (c.n 80043) which was registered quite some time later, on 12/5/08.  It has a Continental IO 360 engine of 200 HP and a Hartzell CSU.  Phil Higgins also built our first RV 3 (ZK-PMH).  ZK-PJH2 is photo'd above on take off from the 2014 Black Sands flyin at Raglan.

ZK-EYT2 (c/n 8145) was built by Anthony J Clarry of Blenhiem and was registered to him on 25/2/09.  It first flew at Blenheim on 8/5/09.  It has a Superior IO 360 engine and a Hartzell CSU.  It is photo'd above at the 2012 Black Sands flyin at Raglan.

It was sold to Brian WA Beverland of Katikati on 25/1/10 and it is still owned by him.  It is photo'd above after recent work by JEM Aviation.

ZK-SST (c/n 82081) was started by Paul Munro in Dubai and completed in Auckland.  It was registered to the Skamp Trust of North Shore on 12/10/10 and has an IO 360 engine.  It is photo'd above at North Shore airfield on 5/4/15.

ZK-MRM2 (c/n 82435) was at least partly built by Mike Crene at Matamata and was registered to Ross A Dawson of Matamata on 14/8/11.  On 1/11/13 ownership transferred to Kevin B Jane of Hamilton, then on 25/11/15 to Michael Gordon of Tauranga.  It is photo'd above at Tauranga on 11/2/17.

Although the next to be registered ZK-PDN (c/n 83211) is the most recent RV 8 to fly.  It was first registered to Peter D Nunn of Napier on 5/6/13 and ownership transferred to his Vistic Trust on 1/6/15).  It has a plastic wrap coating system applied, and it is photo'd at the 2017 SAANZ flyin at Ashburton, on 4/2/17.

ZK-WLK (c/n 83304)  was built by David Wilkinson of Auckland from a Quick Build kit and was first registered to him on 9/10/13.  Its first flight was at North Shore airfield on 13/12/13.  It is photo'd above on an early air to air photo session on 11/1/14 over the Mahurangi area.

It has a Superior IO 360 engine with a longer crankshaft throw effectively making it an IO 375 and it produces well in excess of 200 HP.  David has fitted an inverted oil system and a smoke system which he uses for aerobatics and also when flying in the RV formation display team.  he also has lighter weight composite blades fitted to a Hartzell CSUwhich helps in keeping the CG forward.

Almost exactly one year ago David and his father Don flew across the Tasman in ZK-WLK on the Great Aussie Flying Adventure (along with Bill Luther in RV 7 ZK-WLL and Peter Merton in RV 6 ZK-VRV).  The ZK marks were added to conform with international flight  rules.  The above photo was taken at North Shore airfield on 18/3/17.

We will be seeing more RV 8s on the New Zealand register with at least 2 more well advanced in the Waikato area.  I reckon they are great looking planes.


  1. My mate down the road has both a RV4 and a RV8 under construction.Looking to get one finished by end of this year but currently not working on either.The RV8 is well advanced.

    1. Is your mate still completing the 4 and 8? Would he be interested in parting with one or both?