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Van’s Aircraft Surrenders Amidst Spy Photos of High-Wing Model

The company had planned to make the announcement at Oshkosh, but the internet ruined everything

Van's RV-15

The world’s most successful maker of kitplanes, Van’s Aircraft, has announced its latest model, the RV-15. And, no, it’s not flying inverted. It’s a high-wing model. Van’s is calling it an engineering prototype, but it looks plenty polished to us. The video is, we won’t lie, way cool. The plane looks correct in every way, and just as importantly, it sounds amazing. Just what’s under the cowling making all that sweet music is a mystery. In its release, Van’s had a blast, revealing only as much as they wanted to and in a really fun way. From the company:

Model: RV-15
Engine: Yes
Top Speed: Top Secret
Ceiling: TBD
Stall Speed: You’ll See
Fuel Capacity: Plenty
Seats: Yes [HA!]
Baggage: Oh yes

Then they added this nice little note when you click on “Specs.” Indeed!

Van's RV-15 Specification

The company, which for 50 years has prided itself on a hugely successful formula (with one or two exceptions) of low-wing two-seat all-metal planes is rolling out its RV-15, a two or maybe four-seat taildragger that follows the company’s naming convention. It’s the one after the RV-14, so it’s the RV-15. (As in France with floor numbers, Van’s wisely skipped the RV-13). The plane sounds like it has a constant-speed prop, and we’re agreeing with the rest of the interwebs that Van’s will most likely go with Lycoming four-banger. Other observations: the tires are big and the flaps are too. 

The rollout was anything but smooth and did not go as planned. On Friday, an anonymous user online posted spy photos of the RV-15, presumably in the pattern at Aurora State Airport in Oregon where Van’s is headquartered. The taildragger, all in bare metal and with its wings unmistakably attached way up there, was revealed to the world. Instead of making believe it didn’t happen, Van’s, once again, did the smart thing and just announced the plane.

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Spy photos, as you might know, are ubiquitous in the auto industry. To combat the leak of that information, carmakers will wrap their emerging vehicles in vinyl weirdness and tack on fake shapes to throw off the websleuths who will unpack every milligram of meaning from aforementioned spy pics, often with frightening accuracy, though sometimes their confident analysis is hilariously wrong. The stealth thing is not so easy to do with airplanes, especially the adding false shapes to the thing. And the military’s practice of flying their new planes in top secret desert locales, well, it’s a lot of work and the top-secret part would be hard to pull off for makers of small planes. So the internet has spoiled everyone’s Day One Oshkosh fun. This is why we can’t have nice surprises.

It was last Friday when we first laid eyes on the plane. To be honest, from a distance, it failed to impress. But you must check out Van’s video of it. It looks solid, flies like an RV, by all outward appearances, at least, and features the all-metal construction that made the company famous. We can’t wait to fly it!

An RV Design With The Wing On Top? Mum’s The Word

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