Rich Macrafic's RV-7A



RV-7A N4956T, after a 12-year build, flew for the first time on 10/09/2017 from KRST (Rochester, MN).

Everybody talks about the “RV smile” after that first flight.  For me, that came on the second flight.  The first one was approached with trepidation, caused by the combination of a new plane that had never flown and a pilot (me) that had only six hours of transition training (albeit excellent training) under my belt.  The flight ended with, I’ll admit, a few tears; tears of relief, pride, joy and accomplishment.  Ok, it also ended with a bottle of champagne with my co-builder and wife, Cindy.

Following are the relevant aircraft details:

  • IO-360 horizontal induction engine
  • Garmin G3X panel, GTN 650 GPS, extended squitter transponder and ADS-B receiver
  • Dynon EFIS D6 w/backup battery
  • TruTrak GX Pilot autopilot
  • Dual Plane Power alternators
  • Catto 3-blade prop
  • 2 Pmag magnetos
  • Vertical Power VPX-pro electrical protection
  • SC-15 UV resistant tip-up canopy
  • Classic Aero interior (Sportsman 2 side panels, Aviator seats)
  • TCW IBBS backup battery
  • Gretz heated pitot tube
  • AFS AOA pro
  • PS Engineering audio panel
  • PPG Concept paint

We are now just over ten hours into our flight testing, and we want to extend a sincere heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all the eager and knowledgeable assistance we received from so may fronts as we made our way forward on this epic journey.  In no particular order:

Aero Sport Powerfor the wonderful engine, advice, and follow-on support over the years.  Bart and Sue are no longer part of the operation, but they will always be a part of our “story.”

Classic Aero Designsfor the wonderful interior and support.  Special requests were met with enthusiasm, a comfortable and wonderful looking interior was delivered without issues, and installation was a fun and easily accomplished task that we could both do together.  Mostly, we dealt with Luke, but surely there is an army of people behind Luke that contributes.  We could not be happier!

RV-7A N4956T interior
RV-7A N4956T interior

Cleaveland Aircraft Toolfor the initial riveting class that I insisted Cindy and I attend, prior to making the final decision to build an RV.  The fun and success we had in that class sealed the deal.  The tools we have bought from you have been only top quality.  Most of all, the relationship we have developed with you, Mike, and your family has been the most rewarding and cherished.  Seeing you all at RV Days, or at AirVenture, is like seeing long lost family!

EAA Chapter 100, Dodge Center, MNfor giving us examples of successful builds, for encouraging us to continue our own, and for allowing us to share in helping EAA in its endeavors.

Moody Aero-Graphics, Incfor the paint masks that made our paint scheme a beautiful reality.  The N-number was complicated enough that our painter all but refused to tackle it without the masks, and we were not experienced enough to undertake the complex free-hand taping that would otherwise have been required of us.  Thank you, Paul, for creating a really nice product and for being extremely responsive to correct a single mistake we found.

Paul Irlbeck Aviation, Incfor SO MUCH!!  After ten years of building, I had reached a low point and was actually considering selling the project.  Finishing work (canopy and fiberglassing) remained to be done.  The engine was sitting there, not hung, and I was no gear-head (an understatement).  Through my wife’s encouragement, and with the help of the Twin City RV Builders Group, we were able to hook up with Paul, the timing was right for all of us, the agreed completion plan met both of our desires, and the rest is history.  Working with Paul taught me so much, and the education was not confined to just engines.  While most of the learning was one way, there were some new tricks that we managed to teach that old dog! Paul also did the painting of the aircraft, with Cindy and I doing much of the prep work (acid wash, scuffing, taping, masking, etc) and trying to stay ahead of Paul’s painting.  As has been the case with so many of the companies we have worked with on this project, it was the friendship that we developed with Paul that we cherish most.

Scheme Designersfor your patience in working with us over a long period of time as we decided on the paint scheme and the colors.  Craig, your presentation at AirVenture on what to do and NOT to do in designing a paint scheme gave us a solid foundation for our decisions.  To your credit, we only had one or two “violations” of your recommendations.  Kevin, the thanks for the patience goes to you, as you entertained our requests and sent us design after design.  The final configuration files you sent us worked perfectly as input to Moody Aero-Graphics for the paint masks.  We have had SO VERY MANY compliments of our amazing paint job!

SteinAirfor providing a solution as to where we should spend 1/3 of our airplane money!  Stein, thanks for the advice, especially early on as we were designing our panel and selecting avionics.  Also, thanks for the honey; Cindy is now your biggest fan…even considering you took all our money!  The many electrical/wiring tools and materials we bought from you have been nothing but quality.  Nick, your build of the panel was impressive.  We only found one switch miswired, out of the entire build of a high-end and complex panel.  Christer, your assistance to us in configuring our G3X and GTN 650 put us in an excellent starting position for our first flight.  Much appreciation also for being responsive to sporadic questions we have had as we have wrung out the panel.  Ned, thanks for making sure nothing was missed as we tried hard to go broke.   You guys are a class shop, without a doubt!

RV-7A N4956T panel

Tom Berge (RV Transition LLC)for the GREAT (thorough and concise) transition training.  And for the encouragement when things did not come to me as fast as I was anticipating and was accustomed to.  Cindy is anticipating her upcoming (hopefully very soon) training with you!

Van’s Aircraftfor wonderful planes, plans, tools, parts, and personnel.  You are a WONDERFUL company to do business with!  And, given where we are at right now, thanks for the opportunity to advance our flying skills beyond that required of the Cessna and Piper aircraft we have mostly flown (Did I mention Cindy is a pilot also?).  The RV truly does demand that you be a better pilot and that challenge has been extremely gratifying and is making us safer pilots!

RV-7A N4956T interior

Van’s Air Force (particularly Doug Reeves)for the glue!  What can we say that hasn’t been echoed to ad nauseum!  It may be a cliché, but we could NOT have completed this project without this web site.  The experiences and advice of hundreds of builders who went before us have been not only helpful, but absolutely necessary.  We will continue to contribute our annual dues to VAF and will make it a point to add our own experiences and benefit those still building where we can.  Time to give back!

To all:  THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!  You are all a part of the heart and soul of N4956T and have a place in our memories and hearts for a lifetime.


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