Ken Scott: Multitasking at Van’s Aircraft

By Scott Spangler on August 1st, 2008

From AirVenture 2008 – Van’s Aircraft is a small company that’s put a big smile on faces who’ve taken to the sky in the company’s line of RVs. The handful of employees also wear big smiles, even after standing in the hot Oshkosh sun all day, because each of them has a number of different responsibilities that keeps the job interesting.

JetWhine_EAA_AirVenture_RVator_2 Ken Scott (that’s him on the left, with the sunscreen shiny legs), a long-time friend, is no exception. He edits the builder’s magazine, the RVator, handles all the advertising, produces videos, answers the builder’s help line, and gives workshops and forums. One of his favorite tasks is flying an RV to gatherings like EAA AirVenture; it’s a different one every year, and it’s akin to Christmas with no bad presents, except it’s a lot warmer and, upon arrival, involves standing in the sun most of the day.

Asking about his flight from Aurora, Oregon, is an AirVenture ritual for me because Ken is a first-rate story teller. Usually he has some adventure with weather or meets an interesting person during a fuel stop. This year the main subject was the airplane he flew east, the RV-12, which is Van’s entry in the light-sport aircraft market.

Right now there is only one of them, and that’s what he flew. (They’ve shipped more than a hundred starter kits, and full kits should be available early next year, he said.)

“It flies really well, like a light RV-9,” he said. And he had more fun on his two-day trip east than the test pilot did completing several hours of spin testing required for earning approval as an LSA under the industry consensus standards. (All the flight work is done, Ken said, but there’s a bit more paperwork to do.)

Ken’s been around aviation for awhile, and he’s pretty traditional, or as traditional as someone who built and flies an RV-6 that he upgraded with a constant-speed prop two years ago. What he said next really surprised me.

“I love that Rotax,” he said, referring to the RV-12’s 912S.

“It’s the simplest airplane I’ve ever flown,” he said. “You turn the key and it starts instantly. With the altitude adjusting carbs there’s no mixture, just one big black knob. Push it in and go. I had no problem climbing to 9,500 feet [to clear the hills between Oshkosh and Oregon]. I’d take it anywhere!”

He’s looking forward to the trip home because the cockpit offers great visibility, and the cockpit offers a bit more room than the other side-by-side RVs (but still not enough for me to fit in–and fly–it). And cruising at 117 knots true, it’ll be a speedy trip home, as it was coming to Oshkosh.

JetWhine_EAA_AirVenture_RVator_1 As much as he likes coming to Oshkosh, he always looks forward to the trip home because he’s not a fan of the weather. As he’s mentioned before, like every time the temperature climbs higher than 80, “it doesn’t get this hot in Oregon.” Making the climate change worse was the open-window cooling system at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which has been home (one week a year) for the the crew from Van’s for more than a decade.

As people started lining up to ask Ken about this and that, I asked my standard closing question during AirVenture: What’s the coolest thing you seen or heard about so far?

Smiling widely, he said, “Air conditioning at the dorms!”

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