Van’s Aircraft dropped a bomb at EAA’s AirVenture last week, announcing a—wait for it—high wing backcountry airplane. The company didn’t make a big deal of the major news and there was no official announcement. But Van’s vice president and COO Greg Hughes confirmed that the company is in the process of building an all-metal, high-wing airplane named the RV-15—the 15th design for the Aurora, Oregon-based company.
Hughes said Van’s made the decision to build a backcountry airplane because “it’s a segment of aviation that people are passionate about.” There are no images and few details to share for the RV-15. However, Hughes said that the airplane will emerge with a tailwheel configuration. A tricycle version will follow. Other than that, Van’s wants to wait to announce specs and performance capabilities publicly until they have been proven internally. But Hughes made one promise: “It will be a really fun airplane.” The RV-15 is expected to fly before Oshkosh 2022, in time for Van’s Aircraft’s 50th anniversary.
The RV-15 is a significant departure from Van’s Aircraft’s previous 14 designs. The company started offering its low-wing kit airplanes in 1972 and the current production line includes eight airplanes ranging in size from the single-seat RV-3 to the four-seat RV-10. The versatile product line offers airplanes specifically designed for speed, cross-country flights and aerobatics. Most of the airplanes are offered as kits; however, the RV12iS SLSA can be purchased as a complete build. The last design—the speedy, spacious, two-seat, side-by-side RV-14—was first introduced nearly a decade ago.