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.
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.
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.
Here are two articles reprinted from Vintage Airplane magazine that explain the intricacies of judging at EAA / VAA events.
Other definitions that apply to vintage aircraft include:
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.
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.
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.
An aircraft constructed exactly to the original manufacturer’s plans, full size in scale, but not constructed by the original manufacturer, or its licensee.