Soon after the RV-4 proved that a two seat RV was a practical and exciting airplane, prospective customers began asking for a side-by-side RV.
When the demand became too big to ignore, Van went back to the drafting board. Initially, he was reluctant, because he felt that a wider, and inevitably heavier, airplane would suffer in comparison to the sleek centerline seating airplanes. It wasn’t long before his quest for optimization surfaced again. Using what he’d learned from the RV-3 and RV-4, and striving in every way he knew to avoid losing performance, he designed the RV-6.
The canopy was a forward opening bubble that closed almost seamlessly and, like all RVs, the visibility was superb. The landing gear was the same tailwheel arrangement that had worked so well on the RV-3 and RV-4. Since a side-by-side airplane was more likely to be flown cross-country, the fuel capacity was increased.
The RV-6 made its first flight in 1985. When all the flight testing was done, Van was delighted to find that despite the wide fuselage, it was only three miles per hour slower than the RV-4! The handling qualities and STOL characteristics were so close that a pilot who couldn’t see the altered visual picture caused by sitting off the centerline probably couldn’t tell the RV-4 and RV-6 apart.