Section 6 – Vertical Stabilizer

The vertical stabilizer is made up of relatively few parts, all of which (except for the outer skin) are shown in the photo above. I imagine that’s why Van’s has every builder start by constructing the vertical stabilizer: it goes together fairly quickly and so is definitely a confidence builder. On to the build:

12 April 2021

After some preparatory work (re-bleeding the Numatx rivet squeezer, exchanging the wood cutting blade in the band saw for a metal cutting one) in the morning, this afternoon, I overcame my anxiety about messing something up and completed several tasks on pages 06-02 and 06-03:

P06-02 Step 5: Modified the VS-01401 Front Spar Doubler using the band saw. I then deburred it carefully so I wouldn’t scratch up the spar when I clecoed those parts back together for the next step.
P06-02 Step 4: Trimmed the VS-702 Front Spar with the band saw, then …
… used the belt sander to get it to the final length …
… and radius the edges of the flanges.
P06-02 Step 6: Dimpled the VS-01401 Front Spar Doubler as well as the VS-702 Front Spar using the DRDT-2 and a set of Avery dies
Note that the top 4 holes don’t get dimpled!
P06-03 Step 1: Final drilled (#12) the rudder attach holes in the VS-410PP, VS-411PP, and VS-412PP Hinge Brackets using the drill press

After a fairly thorough deburring of these parts, I decided to call it a day, as the next step involves correcting a bend in a rather thick (and important) bit of aluminum, and I didn’t want to do that at the end of a work session!

I spent more time on each of these tasks than was probably necessary, but I wanted to be methodical and to avoid making a mistake. I’m sure things will move along faster as I gain confidence in my skills!

Worked on: Page 06-02 (completed steps 4, 5, 6); Page 06-03 (completed step 1)
Time spent: 4 hours

18 April 2021

I spent an hour last night straightening the bow in VS-808PP Rear Spar Doubler — I didn’t get it perfectly flat (or to within the 1/16″ that Van’s specifies), but numerous posters on VAF stated that particular part didn’t need to be very flat, as assembly would flatten it the rest of the way without distorting the parts to which it was attached.

This evening after work, I did some preliminary preparation of VS-808PP: I wanted to see what method worked best to smooth and deburr a thick piece of aluminum. I started with a file, which worked fairly well in that it produced a nice smooth edge. However, it was quite a slow process, and I had to reposition the work in the vise several times. I then decided to try smoothing and deburring the opposite edge using my bench grinder, which is fitted with two different Scotch Brite wheels. This went much more quickly and produced a nice shiny (though slightly bumpy) edge. I decided to continue with the Scotch Brite wheels, and I soon had finished most of the outer edge. I then completed Step 2 on Page 06-03, which involved temporarily assembling several pieces that will make up the rear spar:

P06-03 Step 2: Clecoed the VS-808PP Rear Spar Doubler to the VS-803PP Rear Spar, then clecoed the VS-410PP, VS-411PP, and VS-412PP Hinge Brackets to the assembly. I discovered that I had to use a #30 reamer to enlarge the holes in the hinge brackets in order to get the clecos to fit. Per the instructions, I did not enlarge the corner holes in the lower VS-410PP bracket.
Worked on: Page 06-03 (completed Step 2)
Time spent: 2 hours

Build Underway

After several months of delay — because of COVID, the much longer-than-expected process of turning my garage into a satisfactory workshop, and a bit of anxiety about actually starting to drill holes and cut metal — I finally began building my airplane this afternoon! My kids actually completed the very first step:

Step 2 involved breaking out the very first tool I purchased for this project, the Sioux air drill, and actually making holes in those shiny pieces of aluminum:

The smaller #40 holes went smoothly, but the larger 1/4″ hole turned out somewhat ragged. I ran a 1/4″ reamer through it, however, and that cleaned it up significantly. For good measure, I also marked the spar at the bottom of the small forward doubler, which allowed me to check off Step 3 before I decided to quit for the day.

Worked on: Section 6 – Vertical Stabilizer
Time spent: 2 hours

Empennage Arrival

The nice folks at Old Dominion Freight Lines delivered my empennage kit this morning, and with the help of the driver, I got the crate into the garage airplane factory without any significant difficulty. (Probably obvious, but two 30″ wide furniture dollies make moving the 9′ long crate really simple.) I was very pleased to see that the crate was in perfect condition:

Next up: unpacking, inspection, and inventory.



Kitsune, in the literal sense, is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict legendary foxes as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase as they get older and wiser. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others – as foxes in folklore often do – other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has – they may have as many as nine – the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make sacrifices to them as to a deity.

from Wikipedia

Perhaps it comes from my time in the Navy or maybe it’s the result of having owned a sailboat, but whatever the reason, I have formed the habit of naming my vehicles: my red truck is called “Ruby,” and the white SR20 that I fly regularly is “Weiss.” Thus, it seemed natural to come up with a name for my RV-14 as well.

“Kitsune” is the name I’ve chosen: not only is it the Japanese word for one of my favorite animals, it also begins with “kit” – which is very appropriate for this airplane! Here’s her logo, which you’ll see at the end of each article on this site – and eventually, on the airplane herself: