FAQs, Specs, and related Rocket Links

“If there were a better airplane out there, I would own it.” – Doug Rozendaal, Rocket owner/pilot

This page is under continuous construction. Check back often.

Q: What’s up with Team Rocket these days?
A: Good question. First off, Mark Frederick is still the “F1 Boss”.  He’s busy building race machines, so Vince Frazier, along with Blake Frazier, are managing the daily operations. Our goal is to make enough F1 and F4 parts to allow folks to put together a few of these fine aircraft.

Q: OK, so what do you mean by “make enough parts to allow folks to build a plane?”
A: Let me elaborate with a bit of history. In the early 2000’s, Mark was having QB kits built in the Czech Republic. For various reasons, Czech production ceased after about 175 kits were built.  Things were quiet for awhile. Then in 2016 I (Vince) began asking Mark about the possibility of getting another kit.  The answer was that parts would need to be produced for that to happen.

Q: So, what’s the status on getting parts then?
A: CAD drawings for the original parts didn’t exist, or weren’t available.  So, new drawings are being made. That takes time… and money. First we made the parts needed to support the existing fleet, i.e. cowlings, wingtips, canopies, engine mounts, gear legs, etc… basically all of the stuff that would be in a “finishing kit” if we were prone to do things the same way as other kit companies. Coincidentally, these are the items most likely to be damaged in any minor incidents, so it made sense to make them first.

Next we produced the hard-to-make fuselage bulkheads, ribs, and other formed parts.  We’re delaying the skins and angles until later… because anyone can make those pieces with a pair of snips and a hack saw. Doing this allows people to build a fuselage w/o needing to make the difficult pieces.  Makes sense, right?

When we realized that we were getting close to actually having enough parts to start an airplane project, we decided to make a few changes to the empennage to optimize its design for a better margin of safety, i.e Reno speeds and above. The VNe hasn’t changed, we’ve just tried to make the design even better.

At this point, we have the finishing parts, fuselage, and the tail.  It’s starting to sound like an airframe to me.

Q: What about wings?
A: Wings have traditionally been based on the very rugged RV-4 wing. We call our version the Sport wing. The Sport wing uses the same ribs, spars, and other components as an RV-4 wing, but the span is shorter and the ribs are closer together.

Currently we do not make wings, although we have all of the proper tooling to do so. If the RV-4 wing parts do dry up, we’re in good position to start making those parts. We’d do it now, but Van’s parts are cheap and available.

Q: OK, so parts are available, but it sounds like the builder still needs to source a fair amount of stuff from other vendors, right?
A: Yes, that is correct. I’ll explain more about sourcing parts in a minute, but first let me talk a bit more about what we expect from YOU.  Our ideal customer has built one or more airplanes previously, or has a tenacious streak and isn’t afraid to learn. Building an F1 or F4 is NOT the same as building a prepunched, fully documented, cookie cutter RV-8. You’re gonna have to find some of the parts you need, make some decisions, and study the available information to fill in a few gaps in the construction process.

It’s not impossible, in fact, it’s how ALL airplanes were built until the advent of CAD, CNC machining, and other advances in manufacturing made it possible to pre-punch an entire airframe.

Q:  Is the F1 and F4 pre-punched?

A: Not really. Some parts are, like the firewall, #4 bulkhead, and portions of the new MK3 empennage.  The rest is not. We’d love to have it all pre-punched, but it is simply cost prohibitive to do all at once. We’ll add it as time, money, and CAD changes allow

Q: OK, now tell us about sourcing the parts please?
A: You can get the items discussed above from us. We aren’t listing prices, because we keep getting more items in. Contact me for a current quote, but only if you’re serious please.

In addition to the items that we produce, you’ll need: wings, fuselage skins, various 6061-T6 angles, assorted hardware (we’re working on that right now! 11-16-17), plus the usual instruments, paint, upholstery, engine, prop, and so forth.

Here’s a PDF that gives you a rough idea of what parts you might source from one of the alternative sources:
Stuff to include or omit from RV-4 kits  Of course, there are lots of unfinished kits languishing in garages all over the country. Keep an eye out for them!

All in all, we’re trying to get the difficult parts produced and we expect you to do the rest. If you’re not inclined to do the rest, we suggest that you visit one of the hired guns and negotiate with them.

Q: What about plans?

A: You must have the RV-4 preview plans, and a set of HRII plans, both available from their respective kit vendors. Team Rocket has a photo based manual that shows the general building process.  If you have these 3 documents, you have everything required to build your aircraft.

We also suggest that you make use of the various builder websites such as www.vincesrocket.com

We’re working on updating the drawings, as mentioned previously, so that we can produce a new builder’s manual. Admittedly, it’s a low priority compared to getting parts built, but our young engineer says he’s working on it.

Q: What’s the difference between the F1 Rocket and the F4 Raider?
A: The F1 Rocket is defined by having a 6 cylinder engine, usually a Lycoming IO-540, although a few Continental IO-5xx are out there. All F1 Rockets use either the Sport wing or the Evo wing. Evo wings are no longer available.

The Sport wing is a clone of an HRII wing, aka a converted RV-4 wing that has shorter span, closer rib spacing, and usually larger fuel tanks.

An F1 Rocket typically has a Team Rocket empennage too. Currently recommended is the Mk3 empennage, which is available from us.

The F4 Raider is a 4-cylinder powered version of the Rocket.  The engine, wing, and tail choices muddy up the picture, but we’re trying to offer choices that will allow builders to use more economical engines, wings, and tails.

There are often surplus RV-4 or RV-8 parts out there for sale. You can use them in various combinations, with a bit of planning, to build your dream plane. The good news is that there are 2 flying F4s out there, so this isn’t an untried concept.

4 cylinder engines, Lycoming or equivalent clones, in the horsepower range of 180 to 200+ are appropriate for an F4.

If you’re using a 4 cylinder engine, which is what defines the F4 Raider, you can use the Sport wing above, or if you choose, you could use an RV-8 wing. Loyd Remus makes the proper spar carry-thru for the RV-8 wing.

Note: You MUST fly the F4 Raider to RV-4 or RV-8 speeds if you’re using an unconverted RV-4 wing or an RV-8 wing. This is simple physics. The longer span of those wings and the slightly heavier weight of the F4 fuselage demand your respect.

The empennage choices include the 4 or 8 tail or the TR tail.

We can’t tell you which one flies better, the F1 or the F4. I’m not gonna touch that opinion-based question. However, I’m building an F4, 210hp Titan IO-370, with a SPORT wing.   ‘nuf said!

Q: Can you at least offer some info on the flight characteristics of the F1 and F4.
A: Yes. I have 350 hours in my own F1 Rocket. It flies great. Very nimble. Very powerful. Very fast.  The higher wing loading helps it ride nicely in rough air. The big engine makes it laugh at short runways… during take off anyway! Landings are actually pretty easy too. The big prop flattens out and really puts on the brakes. And the ground handling is a real snooze. These things are pussycats on the ground (but get proper training anyway!).

The F1s tend to be nose heavy. However, you can load nearly anything in the back without concern for CG. According to Mark, the F1 is difficult to hold in a spin because the nose falls out.  Now, the resulting dive can get hairy though. These things really pick up speed quickly downhill.

The F4 flight characteristics are reported to be very much like the RV-8, which is exactly what you’d expect.  Lighter wing loading, a wee bit more economical, and still crazy fast. What’s not to like?

Q: What’s the difference between RV-4 wings, HRII wings, and Sport wings?
A: Don’t let the wing name confuse you. All of these wings are descendants of the RV-4 wing.  The HRII wing came first, then the Sport wings were cloned from the HRII wing.  Any of these can be built from RV-4 parts… because they are all peas in a pod.

Q: What are the mods to make an RV-4 wing into a Rocket wing:
A: The fuel tanks are typically made larger. The tank root rib moves outboard slightly to clear the wider fuselage. Finally, the ribs are spaced closer together and the span is shortened by about 7″ per wing.

Skins aren’t thicker unless you use a one-piece main skin to eliminate the skin joint.  We don’t like that though. It needlessly adds weight to the outboard skin.

Q: How much are EVO wings?
A: Only about 24 sets of EVO wings were produced previously, versus about 150 Sport wings. At this time we do not plan to offer EVO wings, which were never really intended, or optimized, for Rockets in the first place.  There are rumors of other tapered wings becoming available in the future. We’ll update the website if/when any new wing options are developed.

Q: How much are the quick build kits?
A: Please don’t ask us how much QB kits are. We don’t directly offer them at this time.

However, QB kits are now available through any of several “hired gun” shops! Several of our builder’s assistance affiliates are offering to construct your QB fuselage.  This will be an agreement between you and the affiliate. Team Rocket will not be involved except to send parts to your designee.

One shop is currently offering to construct your QB fuselage for $5710, which is the same price that another notable kit company charges.  That price is for labor only. Additional parts, or options, would be extra. Other shops may be more or less. Contact the shops yourself.

Here is a partial listing of the shops that we know of: Builder’s assistance

Please note: We don’t recommend any shop over another. That is up to you to decide.

Q: How much are the slow build kits?
A: You can find a relatively complete price list for fuselage, empennage, and finishing kits here. Things are changing fast and this website simply cannot keep up. Contact us directly to place any order.

Notice: We’re working toward offering a wing kit, but do not have one yet. However, Sport wings are still available from other sources.  Tapered wings are being designed, but no promises are being made yet regarding those.

Q: Can you give us an idea of what’s happening with the kits?
A: Sure.  As of November 2017, we have tooled up with the items most likely needed to support the existing fleet. Things that might get damaged, like spinners, cowlings, gear legs, wing tips, etc. You can see most of these items on this web site in the “Parts and Accessories” page.

Also, as mentioned above, partial fuselage kits with all of the stamped parts are available now. This means that all of the difficult to fabricate parts are available now. You still have to make your own skins, and some angles, but those don’t require any fancy tools.

Empennage kits are also available now.

That’s all we can say right now.  We’re adding other parts as fast as time and money allow. Trust us, we want to get these parts available as much as anyone!

Q: Whats the difference between the F1 Rocket and the F4 Raider?
A: Everyone is familiar with the F1 Rocket, a well-proven, 6 cylinder Lycoming powered, aluminum airframe, ultimate sport plane.  The F4 Raider is our answer to those who wanted a lighter, slightly more sedate, but still an amazing performer, with a 4 cylinder Lycoming engine.

The primary difference is that the F4 uses an extended engine mount to move the 4 cylinder engine forward. The prop remains in the same position as on the F1.

The lighter weight of the 4 cylinder engine requires that the battery and other heavy accessories be moved up in front of the firewall. Whereas the F1, that typically is nose heavy, has the battery well behind the back seat.

The lighter weight of the 4 cylinder engine also may require a metal prop for CG reasons, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Naturally, installations will vary and other items, such as smoke systems, extra baggage compartments, or other equipment could be moved around as required to obtain the correct CG on the F4.

Q: What do I do if I have severe buildertitis and the only cure is to start banging rivets immediately?
A: Hundreds of HRIIs have been built using a mix of Van’s and Harmon and F1 parts in the past. It is still a viable option. Ask Vince for more info, or browse www.vincesrocket.com  for more info on slow building a Rocket or Raider.

Q: What options are commonly found on the Rockets or Raiders?
A: Probably the most noticeable option is the canopy. There are two basic options: a sliding canopy and a tilt-over, aka “flopper” canopy.

The slider seems to be the most popular, but the flopper is certainly a viable option. Rather than trying to describe each and every detail of the canopies, let’s look at the pros and cons, then YOU decide.

F1 Rocket F4 Raider canopy choices
F1 Rocket F4 Raider canopy choices
Flopper pros:
1) cheaper
2) easier to build
3) allows an optimal rollbar behind the pilot’s head
4) nothing in your line of vision
5) easy to seal
6) allows easy access to the instruments via removing the boot cowl
7) easy entry/egress because nothing is in the way
8) the roll bar makes it easy for the back seated to enter/egress
9) the roll bar makes moving the plane very easy. Just grab it and push. No need to pull on the prop
Flopper cons:
1) doesn’t look as cool
Slider pros:
1) looks cool
2) fixed front windscreen
3) handles on the windshield bow make it easy to pull yourself up when exiting the front seat.
Slider cons:
1) tough to seal the sides
2) more difficult to enter either cockpit
3) more adjustments to get a good fit, so somewhat more difficult to build
4) the front windshield bow is not an optimal roll bar as it is not supported below the longeron. In a flipover, it might punch through the longeron.
5) the speedslope windshield makes it more difficult to access the instruments via removing the boot cowl
6) more expensive
There are probably other pros/cons, but these are the main ones. From a safety standpoint, slider con #4 is probably the big one. It would be up to the builder to reinforce that area if they choose.
There is speculation, and I don’t know the answer here, that it wouldn’t be possible for the average person to open a slider in flight.  There are reports that the air loads won’t allow it.  The flopper has no such problem. If you pull the latch on it, it’s gone… hopefully not damaging the tail when it leaves.   And you’ll have plenty of wind in your face if you do. Yikes.
Q: Where can we meet Team Rocket in person?
A: Blake and Vince Frazier will be at EAA Airventure and at the Sun and Fun show.

You’ll find us Oshkosh, er… Airventure, in outdoor space 652. Right behind the Van’s Aircraft tent, near Cleaveland Tool, at the north end of the show, just south of the warbirds.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A: We will add more information here as time allows. Until then, www.vincesrocket.com was the very first Rocket web site on the web.  Of course, that means that it is a bit dated, but, nonetheless, it still is packed with good info, including the FAQ page. Please have a look at those FAQs also. When you’re done, visit the More Links page too.

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We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Wilbur and Orville Wright, many others, then Ray Stits, Richard Van Grunsven, and John Harmon http://www.harmonrocket.com/  all deserve a tip of the hat. John deserves applause for picking up where Van left off and getting all of this Rocket madness started.

Another tip of the hat goes to Mark Frederick, still Rocketing down in Taylor, Texas for putting the Rocket series into kit form. Mark is currently building a retractable gear, supercharged Continental powered, Evo wing race monster. And, no, it’s not available, but you can go watch Mark race it at Reno soon.