The Tennessee Valley RV Builders Group was formed in May, 1998 by several individuals
who were either flying or building kit RV airplanes from Van's Aircraft. The intent of the
group is to foster safety and fellowship within the group by frequently meeting to inspect
the member's projects, and sharing info via email. Since the RV series of aircraft is by
far the largest segment of the custom-built aircraft community, the TVRVBG has grown
rapidly with most of the original member's projects now airborne. The group is based in
the north Alabama area, with most projects within a fifty mile radius of Decatur (DCU).
We have requests from individuals who want to join
the group or host meetings who are not within the Huntsville-Decatur area. Since north
Alabama is the obvious core of the TVRVBG, our events and meetings are located near the
Huntsville/Decatur area in order for us to have maximum participation. However, we
cordially invite RV builders or enthusiasts from any area to visit our meetings and
socials either via aircraft or ground transportation. It is our goal as an enthusiast
organization to offer support even to individuals located too far from our area to allow
membership in the TVRVBG. Info about upcoming meetings is available on this page, and
anyone located anywhere is always welcome at our events as a valued guest.
For builders outside our area who have an interest in being associated with a builders
group, we encourage you to start your own group; it will be more beneficial and fun than
you can imagine!
Anyone in the North Alabama area who is either interested in the RV series of aircraft
or has a project underway is invited to be associated with the group.
The following requirements must be met in order to be considered as a member of the
1) A sincere interest in RV aircraft
2) A willingness to throw rediculous amounts of money at an aircraft project
3) A sincere interest in RV aircraft
4) A willingness to associate with other folks who are crazy about RV aircraft
5) And a sincere interest in RV aircraft
Inquiries concerning the group group can be directed here or here.
As a general rule, the group meets on the third Thursday of the month several times a
year at various members' shops. If you wish to host a TVRVBG meeting, or need more
info about a meeting, please contact the TVRVBG.
Monthly Saturday morning breakfast flyouts:
Winchester, TN (BGF)
Guntersville, AL (8A1)
Moontown, AL (3M5)
Shelbyville, TN (SYI)
Fort Payne, AL (4A9)
First flights are always special. This has to be one of the best first-flight photos
ever....taken by Dave Edgemon's wife as she for the first time witnessed how quickly those
little RV's (RV-9A) get off the ground!
The Origins of the TVRVBG
by Sam Buchanan (originally written May, 2003; updated May 2008)
(This is an account of my recollection of the beginning of the TVRVBG. Other
members have supplemented my account and I would certainly appreciate any input from those
who have additional memories of the early days. We know of no photos or notes from
the earliest meetings.)
In mid-1997, there were few RV aircraft flying in the area surrounding Huntsville and
Decatur, Alabama. My exposure to RVs was limited to the RV-4 being built by Mark Spry, the
RV-6A being flown by Bob Butler, and the very few RVs I had casually inspected at
Sun-N-Fun. As it turns out, there was a group of builders in the Florence area who became
charter members of the TVRVBG. I found Mark's RV-4 to be intriguing because unlike many
kit aircraft, it appeared to be a "real plane". When Bob began zooming around
the pattern at DCU in his NASA-colored RV-6A, it was readily apparent to me that the RV
aircraft were very capable planes indeed.
What really put me over the edge was the decision by fellow J-3 Cub partner Robin Hunt to
begin construction on an RV-8. Having Mark, Bob, and Robin working on RVs was
more than I could stand, so the emp kit of my RV-6 arrived in October, 1997. At that time,
I was told that the north Alabama RV gurus were a couple of gents in Russellville who were
EAA Technical Counselors by the name of Alex Sloan and Jerry McCollister. Jerry and Alex
were instrumental in guiding several of us who were building RVs in the late 1990's.
I don't recall exactly how it came about, but word came via Bob and possibly others that
an RV-6 builder in Huntsville named Ed Seigler wanted to assemble a few aircraft builders
so a very informal support group could be formed for kit aircraft builders. On a pleasant
evening in May, 1998, 12-15 individuals gathered in Ed's garage located at the foot of
Green Mountain to check out his RV project which was at the wing fabrication stage. I
recall Mark, Bob, Robin, Alex, and I think Jerry being at the meeting in addition to some
acquaintances of Ed from EAA 190 at Moontown airport. As far as I recall, the only RV
pilots at the meeting were Bob, Alex, and Jerry. Mark's RV-4 would not fly until a couple
of months later. Other builders who were active at that time included Billy Baggett
(RV-6A), Robby Boyette (RV-8), Chuck Silverstein (RV-6A) and Kevin Belue (RV-6A).
Ed introduced the user group as a response to his difficulty in gaining first-hand
RV-specific builder assistance from local sources. While the local EAA chapters had
various aircraft represented, there were precious few individuals who could actually
provide "been there, done that" information specifically for RVs. The early
meetings of the group were openly directed toward builders of all aircraft, but the center
of focus quickly became the RV series of aircraft primarily because it became apparent
that most of the aircraft being built in the Huntsville area were RVs.
That meeting in Ed's garage was so well received that Ed insisted we plan another meeting
the following month. For the life of me, I cannot recall where that second meeting
occurred but it too may have been in Ed's garage (the September meeting was at Jeff
Crabb's garage, RV-6A QB, and the October meeting was at my shop). When word spread that
an RV group was meeting, it was discovered that other people were building RVs in the
north Alabama area who were unaware there were fellow builders nearby. The attendance at
group meetings quickly swelled as it became apparent that north Alabama was about to hatch
a bunch of RV projects! No doubt the favorable economic environment coupled with the
high-tech community in Huntsville fostered rapid growth of RV projects. But a major factor
that contributed to the growth of the group was the internet; never before had it been
possible to disseminate textual and photographic information about a user group instantly
to an unlimited number of readers. The traditional printed, mailed newsletter was rendered
obsolete and the RV group rigorously rode the internet wave.
Once the group was on its feet, a primary topic of discussion was how we could eventually
form an organization of RV pilots and planes so it would be possible to get as many as
four or five RVs gathered at the same place at the same time. Imagine, nearly half a dozen
of our kit-built planes gathered at a fly-in as a flight! At no time did any of us imagine
the explosive growth the group would experience wherein five short years would bring sixty
little stubby-winged RVs and projects into the flock.
The RV group, eventually known as the Tennessee Valley RV Builders Group, (there was
discussion at one point about called our group the "Chicken Wing" of Vans Air
Force!) in this writer's opinion, has enjoyed phenomenal growth due to the quality of
individuals populating the group. The TVRVBG is an immensely talented bunch of RV builders
with just enough craziness in the mix to keep things entertaining. Absent is the political
and organizational posturing and maneuvering that sometimes handicaps user groups;
instead, the focus of the group has been centered on assisting current builders,
introducing prospective builders to RV aircraft, and sharing relevant information that
enables all of us to enjoy our projects whether they be in the garage or at the airport.
I must admit I heard grumbling (and even a bit of open hostility) from a few EAA chapter
members wherein the TVRVBG was accused of "splitting off" from EAA chapters.
These comments were the result of misinformed opinions where the individual did not
understand the intent and purpose of the group. It has been this writer's experience that
TVRVBG members have not ever wished ill for a particular EAA chapter; the intent of the
group has merely been to provide specific guidance for RV builders that was unobtainable
via conventional local EAA avenues. In fact, numerous local EAA events have been enhanced
by the attendance of a flight of TVRVBG planes, and as the TVRVBG flying population
expands, this positive influence will be felt in ever widening circles. To their credit,
the EAA grumblers eventually became TVRVBG supporters once they understood the purpose and
value of the group.
At the time of this writing, the TVRVBG is about to celebrate its fifth (10th)
birthday. What a five (ten) years it has been! Not only do we have
members covering an area from central Alabama, Mississippi, and southern Tennessee, but
the quality of the planes under construction and flying is far beyond what was routine
just a few years ago. Our members have flown their RVs literally to the four corners of
the country and even beyond its shores. And the TVRVBG is known nationally as a vibrant,
growing part of the expanding RV
Thanks, Ed, for inviting us to your little meeting in your garage! This is all your