Thank you for your interest in writing for Vintage Aircraft, which is published six times annually for the members of EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Association. Vintage Aircraft’s mission is to inform, educate, and entertain enthusiasts interested in the aircraft of yesterday.
What Makes a Good Article?
VAAers are hands-on participants, active in all facets of vintage aviation. That’s why how-to is a common theme in each issue’s mix of feature stories and departments. EAA and it’s divisions are also about people. This means a successful article doesn’t tell what someone did in recreational aviation—it shows how he or she did it. Joe restorer’s Taylorcraft BC-12 for example, is not as interesting to our readers as Restoring a Taylorcraft for Less Than $20K.
No matter the subject or whether it is a feature or department, a good article is a narrative with a story line—a beginning, middle, and end—that engages the reader. Look beyond the obvious. For example, anyone can write My First Flight to EAA AirVenture, and they would all sound pretty much the same. A writer with vision would look at EAA AirVenture and see 200 Miles a Day for Operation Thirst or Camp Scholler: How the Neighborhood Has Changed Over 25 Years.
Always look beyond the obvious. Be specific. Focus on one part of the whole. In how-to articles, teach by example, not by a chronological monologue or lecture. It’s not a textbook. And it’s not numbers connected by words foreign to the vocabulary of the average pilot. Naturally, the story involves a VAAer, and to get a feel of what we’re looking for, study the last few issues.
Ultimately, every article must in some way enrich the reader’s aviation interest. VAAers are ordinary people of ordinary means with an extraordinary passion for aviation. Connect with them by being their eyes, ears, fingers, and nose. Avoid jargon, but don’t talk down to them; more than 96 percent of all VAA members are rated pilots; 20% of them are A&P mechanics and 77% of them own at least one airplane. Explain new terms concisely, or include a glossary. If the article is math heavy, include a spreadsheet that allows readers to plug in the variables.
How to Propose/Submit an Article
Time is everyone’s most valuable resource, so to make the best use of it; please submit a query rather than a completed manuscript. Because the editorial staff is few in number, we don’t accept phone queries. Instead, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to avoid the spam folder, use “Vintage Aircraft Article Query” in the subject line.
Please don’t send a query that is a shopping list of ideas: “I’d like to write a story on riveting, my Chapter’s pancake breakfast, and the airplane I just finished” is not a query. A good query focuses on just one feature or department topic. It is specific. Like a good story, it should have a headline that captures our attention and suggests what the story is about, a subhead that expands on the headline, and a strong lead paragraph that shows what the story is about—and why it’s important to EAAers.
If you’ve already written the article, in lieu of a query you may submit it as file (preferably a Microsoft Word document) attached to your e-mail. Make sure all of your contact information—name, address, phone number, and e-mail address—is at the top of the Word document. We cannot assume responsibility for the loss or return of unsolicited manuscripts, and we will not consider queries or manuscripts submitted to more than one publication at the same time.
We will acknowledge receipt of your query or manuscript immediately and will do our best to let you know whether it’s been accepted or rejected within 60 days. (Expect a delay if you submit a query or manuscript six weeks before or after EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.) Upon acceptance, all articles are subject to editing. Please indicate whether we may print your e-mail address so readers can contact you about the article. Submissions are published at the discretion of the publisher and may appear in any EAA publication or on its website.
Each issue includes four or more features, which run between 1,500 and 3,000 words on average, that fall into these broad categories:
• Equipment/Innovations (that make flying safer, easier, or more affordable)
• Training/Techniques (that make flying safer and expand pilot skills and capabilities)
• Lifestyle/Personality (of an VAAer known or unknown who has an interesting story)
Photos help tell the story, and they are essential to nearly every submission. They must be of the highest quality and must help tell the story. On rare occasions, we may assign a photographer to illustrate your article.
What images to select depends on the story, but like a good movie they establish the scene and provide necessary details. If someone is quoted often in an article, include several photos of the person doing something related to what he or she is talking about. When writing about a homebuilt, photos of its construction are often more important than photos of the finished project. Whenever possible, provide a wide selection, and make sure you include caption and photo credit information for each one.
Never send original slides or prints with an unsolicited manuscript. We cannot be responsible for lost slides or prints. Generally, we keep the images, but if you would like them returned, please let us know.
Digital Photos are great, and in fact make up the bulk of the images we now use in the magazine, but unless they are of sufficient resolution and quality, what looks good on your computer screen may not work well in print. Send the biggest image file (JPEG or TIFF) your camera is capable of creating. Generally, a full-resolution picture from a 2-megapixel camera or better is required, or images 300 dpi or higher. If you’re looking at the photo on a computer screen using an image processing program such as Adobe Photoshop, the minimum size of an image we could use would be 4×6 inches at 300 dpi. Do not “adjust” images in a digital photograph program before sending them to us.
Do not send printed digital photos. They do not have the quality necessary for reproduction in the magazine.
Please send digital photos as individual JPEG or TIFF files. Do not place them in a Word document or make a PDF.
Rename your digital photos so they are related to the manuscript filename. For example, if the story is SmithAirplane.doc, the photos should be named SmithAirplane-1.jpg, SmithAirplane-2.jpg, etc.
If your photo files are too big to e-mail, burn them to a CD and send them via snail mail. If you have a high-speed connection to the internet, please let us know, and we can supply you with a link to a download site for the images.
Before submitting your query or manuscript, ask yourself these questions:
- Does it fit the mission of Vintage Airplane?
- Has the magazine addressed this topic in the last 18 months or so?
- In what feature category or department does it best fit?
- Is it unique, and does it show, not tell?
- Does it include information on the availability of photographs and/or art?
- Does it include all author contact information?
Thank you for your interest in Vintage Airplane. It’s great when VAA members pitch in to help one another. We look forward to seeing your work!