Van's Aircraft Factory Mysteries Revealed

A photo tour shows how things have changed in RV Land. Photography by Robert Goyer.

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**What's the secret to Van's remarkable success in turning out winning kit designs? The secret is that there aren't really any secrets at all: It's all about making great flying airplanes, creating kits that are easy and straightforward to build, and putting that package together at a price that makes customers out of potential customers. Ease of building is a critical component to Van's recipe, and there is a secret here. Van's kits are easier than ever to build. Here's how they do it, and without any spoilers, it's a blend of cutting-edge and antique technologies blended to make the best selling kits in the world. **
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Neatly organized cowls, fairings and door skins await shipment.
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** Van’s manufactures almost all their own aluminum parts. Stacks of wing ribs are arranged in bundles.**
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** All the small bits are milled and drilled in-house.**
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** Engine mounts for the different models are welded and powder-coated.**
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Gear leg fairings – think of them as horsepower without fuel.
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** Engine mounts for the different models are welded and powder-coated.**
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** The West Wing houses engines, QuickBuild kist and stacks of crates ready to ship.**
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** A day’s shipping, courtesy of Van’s crate builders and packers.**
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** Van’s offers new Lycoming engines at OEM rates.**
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RV-12 center-sections ready to go.
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Back from the assembly center in the Philippines, QuickBuild kits are stored in roll-around racks.
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** Cabin tops for the RV-10 are one-piece composite units.**
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QuickBuild wings ready to ship.
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An RV-14 wing spar is riveted together.
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Van’s spar riveting machine was built in WW2. Seventy years later, it’s still doing exactly what it was designed to do.
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Rivets…lots and lots of rivets.
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** Aluminum sheets are coated in plastic to protect the surface during manufacture and shipping.**
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** Van’s uses a computer controlled tubing bender to make exhaust systems and canopy frames**
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The Farnham roller – another wartime tool resurrected and reconditioned by Van’s – makes accurate conical bends.
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Ain’t no computer in this baby – big pushbuttons, electric jackscrews and knobs run the show.
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Three CNC punch presses are at the heart of Van’s operation.
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** Hundreds of die sets punch holes of all sizes and dimensions.**
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** Hundreds of die sets punch holes of all sizes and dimensions.**
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** Hundreds of die sets punch holes of all sizes and dimensions.**
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** Hundreds of die sets punch holes of all sizes and dimensions.**
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Every scrap of steel and aluminum remnant is recycled.
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Every scrap of steel and aluminum remnant is recycled.
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** An Aero Lift helps store the demo fleet.**
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**What's the secret to Van's remarkable success in turning out winning kit designs? The secret is that there aren't really any secrets at all: It's all about making great flying airplanes, creating kits that are easy and straightforward to build, and putting that package together at a price that makes customers out of potential customers. Ease of building is a critical component to Van's recipe, and there is a secret here. Van's kits are easier than ever to build. Here's how they do it, and without any spoilers, it's a blend of cutting-edge and antique technologies blended to make the best selling kits in the world. **