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Published on Dec 13, 2009
Join ANN on a Tour of the Vans Aircraft Facility in Aurora, Oregon
The 60,000 square foot Vans Aircraft facility, located in Aurora Oregon, is a far cry from the companys beginnings. Over 30 years ago, in a small shop behind his house in Reedville, Oregon, Richard VanGrunsven pursued his love of aviation. While not working as a mechanical engineer, he spent his hours designing and building his first plane, a re-engineered Playboy airframe. Renamed the RV-1, the aircraft had a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, Hoerner style wingtips, and a set of cantilever aluminum wings.
From 1965 to 1968, Van flew the RV-1 over 550 hours, but still felt that something with better performance could be achieved. In the early 1970s, he started construction of the RV-3. He wanted an airplane that could fly into any reasonable airstrip, have enough power and maneuverability to do basic aerobatics, and be as fast as possible. He flew the RV-3 for the first time in August of 1971. After being inundated with interest, VanGrunsven pursued his lifelong dream, starting Vans Aircraft, Inc. in 1973. From his small workshop, he developed and produced RV-3 kits almost single-handedly. With the market success of the RV-4, the RV-6/6A, the RV-7/7A, the RV-8/8A, and the RV-9/9A, Vans Aircraft, Inc. continues to build towards the future.
Over the years, and several expansions, the company eventually moved to its current location on the Aurora, Oregon airport. By 2005, over 4,000 RV kits, averaging almost 130 kits per year since the start of the company, have been completed and flown. Currently, the company employs 70 people full time, with hundreds more in sub-contract roles, producing several hundred complete aircraft kits a year.
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