The Van's RV-8 is a two-seater, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt plane that has become quite popular in the aviation community. Developed in 1996, it is admired for its tandem seating and lengthy range of flight.

Founded by Richard "Van" VanGrunsven in 1973, Van's Aircraft, Inc. has gained a great reputation for its airplane kits; the RV series stands as the most commonly built craft among homemade aircrafts with more than 10,600 produced altogether.

Come along with us as we investigate the timeless charm and unforgettable legacy of the Van's RV-8/8A!

RV-8A at the 2007 South West Regional Fly In, - By TimothyMN(By TimothyMN, CC BY-SA 3.0)

What is the difference between RV-8 and RV-8A?

The RV-8 is part of an RV aircraft series from Van's Aircraft, it comes in two variations: one with conventional gear and the other with tricycle gear. The conventional gear model boasts a sleek, aerodynamic design that offers high-performance capabilities.

However, the tricycle gear version provides better visibility when taxiing on the runway.

Both models handle similarly once they're up in the air. When you're flying, the location of the wheels is the last thing on your mind—it's all about the thrill of soaring through the sky.

RV-8 on wheel skis in December 2011 - By KitfoxRV(By KitfoxRV - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The History of the RV-8/8A

Van's returned to the idea of tandem seating in 1995. The dual side-by-side RV-6/6A was already the most sought after homebuilt design, but there were many pilots who still wanted a centerline cockpit. At Oshkosh that same year, one prototype was on exhibit and it became obvious that an airplane like the RV-8 generated a lot of interest.

Visitors crowded around the display model, eager to buy it; however, kits were not yet available for purchase. By 1996, kit sales began and complete kits were available by 1998. Soon after this, the kit for the tricycle gear RV-8A went up for sale.

At present, the RV series can be classified as either an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) or special light-sport aircraft (SLSA).

Standard Build Kit - RV(Van's Aircraft Standard Kit)

Building the RV8

The RV-8/8A enjoys a solid reputation for its craftsmanship and design. It's renowned for its performance, landing slow, taking off quickly and zooming through the sky. In 2020, Van’s allowed the 210 HP Lycoming IO-390A engine to be used on these aircraft.

Many pilots prefer lighter engines with fewer than 180 horsepower, since they offer just as exciting performance but with better handling. The majority of the planes outfitted with the RV-8/8A have 180 HP engines, and while they may climb slower than their larger counterparts, they reach impressive speeds.

RV-8 - By TimothyMN(By TimothyMN at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

RV8 Specs

The RV-8 has a fighter like feel with it's centerline seating and the sliding canopy is built around a sturdy steel roll bar and fixed windshield. The passenger rear seat is located behind the pilots seat. This aircraft in both the RV8 and RV8A have an impressive fuel capacity, providing a longe range of flight and high cruise speeds. There are two baggage compartments, one in the front and one at the back, guaranteeing that even large quantities of luggage will stay inside the well within the weight and balance envelope.

  • Seating: One Crew, one passenger

  • Span: 24" ft

  • Length: 21’ 0”

  • Height: 5’ 7”

  • Wing Area (sq ft): 116

  • Empty Weight: 1067-1120

  • Gross Weight: 1800 lbs

  • Wing Loading (lb/sq.ft): 15.5 lb sq ft

  • Power Loading (lb/hp): 12-9.0

  • Engine (hp): 150-215

  • Prop Type (fixed pitch or constant speed): c/s

  • Fuel Capacity (US gallons): 42

  • Baggage (lbs. approx): 125

RV8A Specs

  • Seating: One Crew, one passenger

  • Span: 24" ft

  • Length: 20’ 10”

  • Height: 7’ 4”

  • Wing Area (sq ft): 116

  • Empty Weight: 1067-1120

  • Gross Weight: 1800 lbs

  • Wing Loading (lb/sq.ft): 15.5 lb sq ft

  • Power Loading (lb/hp): 12-9.0

  • Engine (hp): 150-215

  • Prop Type (fixed pitch or constant speed): c/s

  • Fuel Capacity (US gallons): 42

  • Baggage (lbs. approx): 125

RV8 Performance Measured

  • Top Speed (all speeds in statute mph): 222

  • Cruise (75% @ 8000’): 212

  • Cruise (55% @ 8000’): 189

  • Stall speed (solo weight): 51

  • Takeoff Distance (ft, solo weight): 250

  • Takeoff Distance(ft, gross weight): 500

  • Landing Distance (ft, solo weight rate): 350

  • Landing Distance (ft, gross weight rate ): 500

  • Rate of Climb (ft/min, solo weight): 2700

  • Rate of Climb (ft/min, gross weight): 1900

  • Aerobatic Gross Weight: 1600 lbs

  • Ceiling (gross weight): 22.500

  • Range (statute miles, 75% @ 8000’): 780

  • Range (statute miles, 55% @ 8000’): 940

RV8A Performance Measured

  • Top Speed (all speeds in statute mph): 220

  • Cruise (75% @ 8000’): 210

  • Cruise (55% @ 8000’): 187

  • Stall speed (solo weight): 52

  • Takeoff Distance (ft, solo weight): 250

  • Takeoff Distance(ft, gross weight): 500

  • Landing Distance (ft, solo weight rate): 350

  • Landing Distance (ft, gross weight rate): 550

  • Rate of Climb (ft/min, solo weight): 2500

  • Rate of Climb (ft/min, gross weight): 1800

  • Aerobatic Gross Weight: 1600 lbs

  • Ceiling (gross weight): 21.500

  • Range (statute miles, 75% @ 8000’): 770

  • Range (statute miles, 55% @ 8000’): 930

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the top speed of the RV-8?

    The topspeed is 220-222 MPH

  • What is the difference between RV-8 and RV-9?

    The RV-9 is longer and narrower than the wings of the RV-8 series

  • How wide is the cabin of the RV-8?

    Interior of RV-8
  • What is the max gross weight of an RV-8?

    Gross Weight: 1800 lbs

  • How much is an RV-8?

    This varies depending on the parts/supplies used during the building process, but a general price of the standard kit is $34,665 and the quick build kit is $52,375.

  • What is the best glide speed for an RV-8?

    According to a report done by Cafe Foundation: glide ratio, idle, 106.8 mph CAS, 115.3 mph TAS

  • What is the fuel consumption of the Van's Aircraft RV-8?

    The estimated fuel burn @ 75% is 11.3gph (check with Van's Aircraft Staff for accurate figures)

  • What tools will I need?

    You can find out the tool required on Van Aircraft's suggested tools web page.

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Vans Aircraft website for Rv8(image: Van's Aircraft website)

Takeaway

Whether you're craving the thrill of cross-country flying with almost perfect control balance, yearning for the fresh air in the front seat of a tandem airplane, or simply seeking remarkable performance in the skies, the Van's RV-8 is the aircraft that promises to take your aviation adventures to new heights.

It's time to embark on a journey that redefines the way you experience the freedom of flight.

Want to learn about other types of aircraft?

Check out these links!

Did you find this article about the Vans RV-8 / RV-8A Airplane helpful?

Do you think we missed anything important? Let us know in the comments below!

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