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2020 Sweepstakes: No more flying yellow billboard2020 Sweepstakes: No more flying yellow billboard

Exterior transformation underway

You may not recognize the AOPA 2020 Sweepstakes RV–10 the next time you see it.
Pilot Briefing March 2020

“All that yellow paint will be stripped and gone,” said Kendall Horst, owner of Lancaster Aero, of the fading, pudding-yellow paint that has covered the Van’s RV–10 since it first flew in 2007. “In fact, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of removing itself.”

The splotchy, mismatched, peeling yellow paint was one of the most recognizable and talked-about aspects of the AOPA RV–10 at the AOPA Fly-Ins and other events where it was displayed in 2019. And large blotches of paint peeled away from the leading edges and fuselage when the airplane flew through rain or had vinyl decals removed.

AOPA selected Lancaster Aero in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, for paint by virtue of its reputation as a top-quality shop, and owner Horst’s enthusiasm for the project.

“I’m an AOPA member and a pilot, and I’ve been following AOPA sweepstakes airplanes for years,” he said. “I’ve wanted to participate in a project like this for a long time, and since we paint many RVs, I knew we could do it well. This RV–10 is going to show people the kind of workmanship we’re known for.”

Craig Barnett, founder of Scheme Designers, presented AOPA with more than 20 potential designs and innumerable paint combinations, and the one AOPA selected (with some modifications) turned out to be the very first one on Barnett’s list.

Barnett has designed many RV–10 paint schemes, and they’re typically tasteful and understated. This time, AOPA asked for something that would make this unique aircraft stand apart. It had to be instantly identifiable as the one and only AOPA Sweepstakes RV–10, which will be given away at the end of the year.

“The aggressive design and colors are meant to stand out,” Barnett said. “It’s not going to get lost in the crowd. It’s not just another pretty face.”

At the moment, the AOPA 2020 Sweepstakes RV–10 isn’t pretty at all.

It’s been stripped down to bare metal, and all the control surfaces have been removed and sanded. The good news is that the underlying metal construction of the airframe is easy to inspect, and the quality of materials and construction is excellent.

The gorgeous leather interior installed by SF Sport Aviation has been covered with protective plastic, and so has the digital IFR instrument panel by Advanced Avionics Systems, Avidyne, and Aerosport Products.

There’s a great deal of detailed and painstaking work still to do. Some of the fiberglass supporting the windshield and windows had cracked over the years and needed repairs and reinforcement.

Also, it was time to upgrade the RV–10 door-latch system with a kit designed by Sean Strasburg of PlaneAround LLC. The original RV–10 door latches connect to the airframe in two places, and multiple doors have been lost or damaged on other RV–10s over the years when they were closed improperly or failed to connect securely. The PlaneAround system adds a third point of contact between each door and the airframe, and it complies with a service bulletin from Van’s Aircraft.

RV–10 builders and pilots have long regarded the doors as a potential weak point, so making an additional connection to the airframe on each door addresses the issue permanently.

“I’m looking forward to working on the doors,” said Horst of Lancaster Aero. “The [PlaneAround] kit seems like an elegant solution, and I think we can get the doors to fit a little better, too. The pilot’s door has some gaps that we can correct.”

Who knows? Smoothing the airflow might even give the sleek RV–10 another knot or two.

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Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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