I started flying and working on airplanes when I was a teenager, and always knew that someday, i would build and fly my perfect aircraft. That dream came true when I finished my RV-8 "The Valkyrie", lifting off for the first time on October 9th, 2005, 30 years to the day after my first solo flight (in a J-3 Cub). Of all the airplanes I have been privileged to fly, none combines everything that I want in the same package as well is this one. It took me just 18 months and 1040 hours to go from first rivet to first flight using the Quick Build option and a lot of focus.
My goals in designing the systems and equipment for the Valkyrie were to make an airplane that I could depend on for traveling (IFR or VFR) and that I could have a lot of fun with flying locally as well. I wanted to push the envelope a little bit with technology, using the latest (within reason) equipment that would make the job of single-pilot IFR simpler and safer. I wanted to do away with vacuum systems, and get rid of mechanical gyros altogether. I wanted an autopilot that was simple to operate, yet could track a flight plan as well as hold heading. Redundancy to the single-fault tolerant level was a requirement, with dual redundancy desirable for functions critical to making it home. I fulfilled all of these desires with the Grand Rapids EFIS and TruTrak Autopilot coupled to the proven GNS 430 from Garmin. Backup navigation is provided by a GPS 18 receiver coupled to AnywhereMap, and the most recent addition, a Garmin 396 (with XM Weather) on a RAM mount. I designed my cockpit around the concept that everything should fall readily to hand with my eyes closed, and similar functions should be grouped together. I designed and constructed a triple-bus electrical system in a side panel, and equipped the plane with both a main and standby alternator, with an Odyssey main battery and a 30 minute standby battery for the EFIS.
The Valkyrie is powered by a TMX-O-360 built by Mattituck with all ECI components, coupled to a Hartzell Blended Airfoil constant speed propeller. I chose the carburated engine because it is simple, easy to work on, and I had no desire to fly extended negative G aerobatics.
The airplane flew unpainted for about six months before visiting GLO Custom paint shop in fort Worth, Texas. Grady O'Neal executed a beautiful paint job in the month that the plane was there, and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. You can find many more pictures on the VAF Web site (courtesy of Doug Reeves) at the following link:
There are additional cockpit pictures in the VAF Forums, where Doug put together a "Virtual Tour":
And the name (Valkyrie)?
"With the airplane finally ready to make it’s public debut (out of the paint shop), I guess it is time to give her a name! Seeing as how my ancestral home is on the Iron Range of Minnesota, it seems appropriate that my airplane be named to recognize the Scandinavian roots of my heritage. My NASA call sign of “Iron Flight” was chosen to honor my grandfather, who worked in the iron mines that have generated so much of the industrial might of our nation. In Norse Mythology, the great warriors and gods are linked to iron – the metal of swords and hammers. In those legends, the god Odin is said to be served by a race of beings whose duty it is to transport the spirits of the greatest warriors to their reward in Valhalla. These beings are often represented as riding winged horses, and therefore it seems fitting that my airplane be given their name, as I can think of no more appropriate appellation than….the Valkyrie!"