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Into the wild blue... part 2

The RV-7A has a roomy cockpit that will easily accept two adults with sufficient leg, head and elbow room to stay comfortable aloft for four hours at a time.

"It's an all-around sport airplane, with excellent cross-country capability, fine aerobatic qualities and superior handling."

With its clear, sliding, jet fighter-inspired canopy, the RV-7A is a cool shapeshifter - a propeller aircraft that was probably a jet fighter in a previous incarnation. But unlike most propeller and jet aircraft, Laframboise's RV-7A is capable of very short take-offs and landings.

Equipped with a fuel-injected, 360 cubic-inch, four-cylinder Superior Air Parts engine, Lamframboise's RV-7A can fly between 150 and 200 hp. According to its designer, while cruising at 160 mph, the RV-7A can achieve better mileage than many of the compact cars it's flying over.

"It has a roller cam, something totally new," Laframboise said. "It makes an aircraft engine run easier and the cam shafts last a lot longer. Yet in so many ways it's solid 1930s technology. No battery needed for ignition, just magnetos. It's basically low-tech when compared to a modern automobile engine."

At the very end of the assembly process, Laframboise hired the expert services of J&M Aviation, operators of the Middlebury State Airport, to paint the bird in a dazzling patriotic red, white and blue. Following Laframboise's sketches, J&M rendered the final product as a visually magnificent, glossy "sports car" with wings.

The RV-7A's maiden flight took place on a warm, sunny day last September. The pilot's wife, Bonnie Laframboise, was on hand to see her husband take off. While she may have been a little leary, she sure didn't show it on flight day. While not a certified pilot, Bonnie is comfortable around aircraft and airfields, too. She has learned about flying, first hand, in the family's Archer aircraft.

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