Aircraft Judging

Becoming a Vintage Judge is one of the most-rewarding yet little-recognized volunteer jobs in the VAA.  Being a Vintage Judge is not just a week’s work at AirVenture.  In addition to the 40-50 hours each judging team spends inspecting aircraft on the field, these men and women spend hours away from the planes compiling their evaluations and then maintain their skills throughout the year at other Fly-Ins and meeting periodically.

Each category – Antique, Classic, and Contemporary – has its own team of experienced judges.  You will recognize them on the field by their distinctive gold caps, usually rushing in a golf cart or walking around and crawling under a parked plane.

 Vintage Judging Teams – Antique, Classic and Contemporary

Vintage Chief Judge Tim Popp, in addition to being a long-time judge himself, coordinates the activities of judging teams in each of our three category judging groups.

All of the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association judges have extensive experience in aircraft maintenance, restoration, and history of the aircraft of their time period.  Some have been previous award winners at AirVenture, some, more than once.  Their experience in judging at Oshkosh ranges from about 36 years to 4-5 years.  Most have been judging for more than 20 years.

How to become a Vintage Judge

To reward those who maintain and restore vintage aircraft to high standards, the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association has set forth requirements for the classification for aircraft that will be judged at Fly-Ins.

Vintage Aircraft Association Official Judging Standards (revised 2017)

Here is an article reprinted from Vintage Airplane magazine that explains one of the intricacies of judging at EAA / VAA events.

The Judging Presentation Book by H.G. Frautschy

Antique Aircraft Category – Mike Hoag, Chairman.  Joe Kokes, Co-Chair. An aircraft constructed by the original manufacturer, or its licensee, on or before August 31, 1945, with the exception of certain pre-World War II aircraft models that had only a small postwar production. Examples: Beechcraft Staggerwing, Fairchild 24 and Monocoupe. Click a link below to see the award winning owners and aircraft in each category.

2019 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2018 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2017 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2016 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2015 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2014 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2013 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2012 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2011 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2010 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners
2009 Antique Aircraft Category Award Winners

Other definitions that apply to vintage aircraft include:

Continuously Maintained
An aircraft with proof of construction by the original manufacturer, or its licensee, which has received periodic maintenance, repair, recover, and/or replacement of parts, but which has never been completely disassembled and rebuilt or remanufactured to new or better-than-new condition.

Restored
An aircraft with proof of construction by the original manufacturer, or its licensee, that has been disassembled into its component parts which were then either replaced, refurbished, or remanufactured to new or better-than-new condition.

Customized
An aircraft with proof of construction by the original manufacturer, or its licensee, which has been obviously modified from its original appearance. Such modifications could include airframe structural changes, paint schemes, interior and upholstery, instrument panel, or engine and cowling, etc.

Replica
An aircraft constructed exactly to the original manufacturer’s plans, full size in scale, but not constructed by the original manufacturer, or its licensee.