What does an RV-8 look like?

The most common question I get from people as they are first introduced to the idea of building a plane is “What does it look like?”  I think most people envision a redneck golf cart with wings! Thats my only conclusion upon seeing their surprise when they realize how cool the RV-8 looks!  So here is a link to Van’s Aircraft’s photo gallery for the RV-8.

RV-8 Photo Gallery on Picasa courtesy of Van’s Aircraft

About Me:

This journey started out of frustration. I love flying, but miss the type of flying I used to do in the Marine Corps. Formation, aerobatics… fun. Renting spam cans just doesn’t cut it. Its expensive, constricting, and lacks many of the things I enjoy about aviation. So I decided to start building my own plane!

The Airplane:

The Van’s RV-8 is a tandem two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt aircraft sold in kit form by Van’s Aircraft. It is considered a “total performance” aircraft. Meaning that the aircraft has not been designed to excel in one mission area, but rather to perform well through a broad set of missions. The aircraft is aerobatic, offers great cross country capability, and has excellent short field take off and landing capabilities.


The RV-8/8A retains the fighter-like feel of centerline seating [of the RV-4], but the wider fuselage contains cockpits that accommodate large people in comfort. Two baggage compartments, one forward and one aft, keep even large amounts of luggage well within the weight and balance envelope. Pilots up to 6’7″ fit in the front. A Tall Pilot option is available. (It was used by one successful builder who describes himself as 6’ 10″, although we think he might be taller). Passengers almost as big find the rear seat fits them, too. Factory demo pilots have flown demo rides with passengers up to 6’9″ and 260 lbs in the back.

The large 42 gallon fuel capacity and efficient airframe provide long range and high cruise speeds, so long distances can be covered easily. The speed and the excellent climb rate provide options for dealing with weather and terrain that simply aren’t available to most pilots. Handling, on the ground or in the air, is typical RV: exciting and responsive, but never “twitchy” or unpredictable.

“The almost perfect control balance and harmony and the excellent visibility make aerobatics a delight. At the aerobatic gross weight of 1600 lbs., the RV-8/8A complies with the +6/-3G standards of the FAA’s Aerobatic Category and can still carry two people, making it possible for a new pilot to get aerobatic instruction before he or she starts rolling and looping.”

The sliding canopy is built around a sturdy steel roll bar and fixed windshield. It must remain closed in flight, but the standard fresh air ducts provide plenty of fresh air to both seats. The RV-8/8A is designed to be flown from the front seat, although a rear stick is provided and a rear throttle and rudder pedals are optional.

Like all RVs, the RV-8/8A climbs well, lands slow, and goes fast. Unlike previous designs, the RV-8/8A was designed to accept the 200 horsepower IO-360 Lycoming. The prototype with this engine demonstrated really remarkable performance. With a single occupant, it would take off in 250’ and climb out at 2600 fpm — performance that had controllers asking “what kind of airplane is that?!” However, the fact that the RV-8 can accept a large engine doesn’t mean that it needs it. The traditional engine options – 150-180 hp Lycomings – have been retained (probably the majority of flying RV-8/8As are powered by a 180 hp engine) and with these lighter engines, performance is still exciting – and the handling even better.


RV – 8

Solo Weight 1400 lbs
Gross Weight 1800 lbs
160 hp 180 hp 200 hp
Empty weight and performance measured with Hartzell 2 Blade C/S prop
Speeds and ranges in statute mph (sm)
Speed – Solo Weight
Top Speed 206 mph 214 mph 222 mph
Cruise [75% @ 8000 ft] 197 mph 204 mph 212 mph
Cruise [55% @ 8000 ft] 175 mph 182 mph 189 mph
Stall Speed 51 mph 51 mph 51 mph
Speed – Gross Weight
Top Speed 205 mph 213 mph 221 mph
Cruise [75% @ 8000 ft] 195 mph 203 mph 210 mph
Cruise [55% @ 8000 ft] 173 mph 180 mph 187 mph
Stall Speed 58 mph 58 mph 58 mph
Ground Performance – Solo Weight
Takeoff Distance 300 ft 275 ft 250 ft
Landing Distance 350 ft 350 ft 350 ft
Ground Performance – Gross Weight
Takeoff Distance 650 ft 575 ft 500 ft
Landing Distance 500 ft 500 ft 500 ft
Climb/Ceiling – Solo Weight
Rate of Climb 2,000 fpm 2,300 fpm 2,700 fpm
Ceiling 21,000 ft 23,000 ft 25,500 ft
Climb/Ceiling – Gross Weight
Rate of Climb 1,400 fpm 1,650 fpm 1,900 fpm
Ceiling 18,500 ft 20,500 ft 22,500 ft
Range [75% @ 8000 ft] 855 sm 790 sm 780 sm
Range [55% @ 8000 ft] 1,030 sm 955 sm 940 sm


RV – 8

Exterior Dimensions
Span 24 ft
Length 21 ft
Height 5 ft 7 in
Wing Area 116 sq ft
Empty Weight 1067 – 1120 lbs
Gross Weight 1800 lbs
Wing Loading 15.5 lb/sq ft
Power Loading 12 – 9 lb/hp
Engine 150-200 hp
Propeller [in prototype] Fixed or C/S
Fuel Capacity 42 US gal
Baggage 125 lbs