After just over two years of building, Steve Thorne — the pilot and host behind the popular aviation YouTube channel “Flight Chops” — debuted his completed RV-14 aircraft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 to an eager crowd of aviation fans. We recently caught up with Steve to learn more about his latest flying adventures in the official Flight Chops airplane.

Build Status: Finished!

From the start of his RV-14 build project, Steve has filmed, documented, and published all the major steps in the process. His immersive videos have covered everything from constructing the airframe and choosing the airplane’s components to test flying and keeping up with preventative maintenance. His goal has always been to fly for fun and help other pilots or aspiring aviators by sharing his real-life experiences.

The Hartzell Propeller team was excited to work with Steve to select the right propeller for his mission and goals: our three-blade scimitar composite “Explorer” prop, which is available for kitplanes powered by select Lycoming 320, 360, and 390 series engines.

“The Explorer ticked off all the boxes I was looking for—to have a solid prop for cross-country to go fast and far, but also to be able to do aerobatics and have fun with it,” said Steve.

He added, “Having logged over 100 hours flying the airplane now, I’m still impressed each time I add power for takeoff. The prop responds right away with very little torque due to how light it is, and the acceleration is awesome. Climb out is often approximately 2000 FPM — even near max gross weight. It’s not uncommon to be off the ground in less than 8 seconds!”

Still Working on His Chops

So far in 2022, Steve has “unlocked” several major aspects of flying for the aircraft. First, the VFR-only restriction (an initial step in the aircraft certification) was lifted. Then, Steve worked with his longtime mentor Dennis to get up to speed on flying IFR behind the automated Garmin Aviation panel in preparation for his IPC (Instrument Proficiency Check).

Steve’s first IFR-filed mission in the RV-14 was a solo flight to Hartzell Propeller’s headquarters in Piqua, Ohio, to have his propeller serviced, including static and dynamic balancing. The Hartzell team was also happy to provide a behind-the-scenes tour of our manufacturing facilities for the Flight Chops channel.

“It was really cool to see all that goes on at the Hartzell factory,” said Steve. “I knew that propellers were complicated, but it’s truly mind-blowing when you see what actually goes into making them.”

Steve’s next achievement was the removal of the aerobatics restriction on his aircraft, which is another stage of the experimental certification process in Canada. Steve also completed the first night flight with the RV-14 and received training to maximize the aerobatics capabilities of the aircraft safely.

“It’s super exciting that one aircraft can effectively cover so many aspects of general aviation,” said Steve. “It’s truly the Flight Chops business travel machine. Now that I’m able to fly IFR and aerobatics in the aircraft, it’s all about flying it to its full potential.”

Right Prop. Right Performance.

When asked about the Explorer propeller’s performance in aerobatic flying, Steve shared a glowing review. “The prop really shined when I started exploring the aerobatic envelope. The airplane holds a vertical line for what feels like more than five seconds!” He added, “On top of the awesome performance, the ramp appeal of the 3-blade composite propeller is outstanding.”