Legendary homebuild plane designer Richard VanGrunsven launched his first kit aircraft, the RV-3, in 1971, as a one seat aircraft. A combination of customer feedback and, by some accounts, marriage, convinced him to adapt the design to be a 2 place aircraft. The resultant Van’s RV-4 was first conceived in the mid 70s but did not fly until 1979. Although superficially similar to the RV-3, the modifications to become a 2 seater were substantial, including increased tail and wing area, a widened fuselage and strengthened landing gear.

Although highly aerobatic, the RV-4 (in common with all Van’s designs) is conceived with VanGrunsven’s concept of ‘total performance’ in mind, with good short field capability, a high ceiling (23,000 ft) and sufficient range for cross country flights. The RV-4 accepts a range of engines up to 180hp. Unlike later Van’s models, the RV-4 is only available with conventional undercarriage.

As one of Van’s earlier products, the RV-4 kit is quite basic and consequently configurations and finish vary greatly between individual airframes. The RV-4 has been directly superceded as a tandem seater in the range by the roomier RV-8, however as of 2021 the RV-4 kit remains available for sale at $23k (engine not included).

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