What Our Members Are Building/Restoring — California Van’s Aircraft RV-14 | Aviation

By Ken Taylor, EAA 637372.

After a long career in the Navy flying turboprops and helicopters, and several more years flying turboprops in government contract work internationally, I realized I didn’t want to give up flying, but I was a bit old for long flight missions during the dark hours. I decided to retire from the international work and get my own wings. I wanted an airplane that flew fast with good IFR cross-country capabilities, as well as one that would do aerobatics — simple maneuvers like I enjoyed in my earliest days as a Navy instructor flying T-34Cs. Finding and affording a certified airplane for both traveling and aerobatics was not possible, but the RV-14 was the perfect choice.

N953KF took four years and two months from first rivet to first flight. I began with two weeks of assistance and training in assembling the empennage at Synergy Air, in Eugene, Oregon. My dear wife was skeptical but supportive. When I suggested I would begin building in our garage, she quickly claimed that space as her art studio, leading me to buy the perfect hangar. I brought the empennage home to my hangar in Camarillo, California (KCMA), ordered quick-build wings and fuselage kits, bought a Cleaveland Tools RV-14 tool kit, and began building. The whole family and several friends helped along the way, but my principal partner was my youngest adult son, Fletcher. He and I got pretty good at riveting and wrenching over those four years.

After a demoralizing prop strike incident that delayed the first flight by six months, I got airborne in March 2023. The standard 210-hp YIO-390 has plenty of power to pull the light airframe. The G3X avionics suite with a great autopilot is superbly stable and very comforting to fly coupled precision approaches to minimums in IMC. I get 170 knots true airspeed at 6,500 feet, on 11 gph. Climb performance is great — 1,500 feet per minute through 5,000 feet. Within weight and balance limits, I can fly with full fuel (300 pounds) and…

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