2017 Hall of Fame Inductee-
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Vintage Airplane magazine
James S. “Jim” Moss of Buckley, Washington, has been posthumously named the Vintage Aircraft Association’s Hall of Fame honoree for 2017. The VAA began its prestigious annual Hall of Fame honors program in 1993. Over the past 24 years, 32 outstanding men and women have been inducted into this select group of aviation achievers. Only two members of this exclusive group have reached legendary status — EAA Founder Paul Poberezny and the famed “Resident Genius of Springdale, Arkansas” Jim Younkin. These gentlemen’s contributions to vintage aviation are clearly in a class by themselves. This year these highly accomplished aviation personalities are joined by Moss, whose remarkable achievements have earned him not only a place in the VAA Hall of Fame but also well-deserved legendary status. People with Paul Poberezny’s aviation leadership and organizational skills come along perhaps once in a lifetime, while the creative aviation talents of someone like Jim Younkin come along perhaps once in every two or even three generations. Moss’ creative aviation talents and achievements are in the same league as those of Younkin. Younkin brought EAA and Vintage airworthy aviation treasures that could have never been imagined. His authentic, full-scale copy of Benny and Maxine Howard’s 1935 Bendix Trophy- and Thompson Trophy-winning Howard DGA-6, Mr. Mulligan, followed by his copy of the first-ever 1929 Thompson Trophy Race-winning Travel Air Mystery Ship both stopped Oshkosh cold when they appeared completely unannounced in the late 1970s. These were followed by the whimsical Mystery Pacer and the huge, overpowering, Gulfhawk-like custom Goliath biplane, and these pure wonders were closely followed by the breathtaking Mullicoupes. Then there were the highly innovative D Staggerwings, which he upgraded into near G Models, or his impressive work with Mitchell autopilot/ TruTrak electronics. All of this tested the bounds of what was possible in aviation at the time, and it showed a level of originality and creativity that was unmatched by anyone. Into this realm of aviation magic came retired Northwest 747 captain and West Coast air-show headliner Jim Moss, who in 1994 had his sights set on rebuilding a tiny 1937 Tex Rankin-era, single-seat, round-engine biplane, which after nearly 60 years of passing through countless owners was for all intents and purposes a skeletal pile of junk. Only two years later, the skeletal remains had been transformed into a magnificent, fully airworthy MG-2 that was the smash hit of the Vintage area at EAA Oshkosh 1997. Jim’s abilities were beyond exceptional, and the MG-2 project had stoked his ambitions. While Jim had long since built and flown his gorgeous Starduster and was lovingly flying his Bücker Jungmeister, the 24-karat gold MG-2 and its mid1930s look, coupled with its nostalgic connection to Tex Rankin, opened a whole new world of concepts for him and his talents. Further, he was so impressed by the ultra-warm reception he had received at Oshkosh in the summer of 1997, he decided to build on his aeronautical ambitions. While at Oshkosh in 1997, he visited the EAA AirVenture Museum and saw the EAA’s full-scale replica of the 1931 Matty Laird/Jimmy Doolittle Super Solution. He was impressed; the airplane made an indelible impact on him — it grabbed him. Jim returned home to Buckley in his MG-2, but the overpowering image of the Bendix Race-winning Super Solution never left his mind. He returned to Oshkosh in January 1998 to photograph and study the airplane. He decided that he had to have an airplane like that … he had to create … to build such an airplane. Jim looked to The Smithsonian for information and hard data and consulted Freddie Quinn, who was still alive at the time. Freddie had done all the woodwork on the original airplane while Matty supervised. Jim gathered all the information, details, plans, and materials that he could find from any and every source. From early 1998 to July 2000, a little over two years, he somehow constructed, assembled, covered, and painted a complete airplane. It was trailered to Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in convention because it still lacked a few fairings here and there and had yet to be flown. One had to look very, very carefully even to realize that a few fairings had yet to be formed and fitted. The Jim Moss airplane on static display in July 2000 at Oshkosh was far more than impressive; it was the personification of an impact airplane. It had not yet even flown in the summer of 2000, but even as a static-display airplane it was magnificent to behold. It was smallish in size, short in wingspan at 21 feet upper and 18 feet lower, and short in length at only 19 feet 6 inches, yet the huge front end housing the big, perfectly cowled, nine-cylinder 450-hp Pratt & Whitney engine and the mammoth wheelpants gave it the look of a massive fireplug — the look of a “Mr. World” with bulging muscles of sheer steel-like strength. The look of the airplane was simply overwhelming — staggering. The oohs and aahs were never-ending, and the airplane was not quite finished. It returned home in August 2000 and flew on December 6, 2000 — with Jim at the controls, naturally. It flew like a dream … and just maybe the great Doolittle was whispering in Jim’s ear. After completing the Super Solution, which now graces Kermit Weeks’ wondrous collection in Polk City, Florida, Jim started work in 2002 on his personalized version of the last Gee Bee design ever created. It would be known as the “Moss Q.E.D. II.” The huge, overpowering original 1934 Gee Bee Q.E.D. R6H was created for the legendary Jackie Cochran to fly in the 1934 MacRobertson Trophy Air Race from London to Melbourne. The original airplane was an aftfuselage-seating, tandem, two-place, sliding-canopy, 6,500-pound-gross-weight machine powered by a 675-hp, nine-cylinder Pratt & Whitney engine turning a two-blade Hamilton Standard propeller. Jim’s airplane would ultimately boast a larger 1820 Wright producing 1,425 hp and turning a Hamilton Standard three-blade prop. Jim’s Q.E.D. II was slightly larger, had double the power, and was trimmed in his signature redand-white paint scheme, but it retained every bit of the original’s look, as well as the muscular style of Granville Brothers’ last design. It would be one big airplane. He was fully aware that he was undertaking a monstrous, nearly superhuman, and ultra-lengthy endeavor, but he could never have envisioned the Q.E.D. becoming the final 11-year adventure of his remarkably productive years working on vintage aircraft. It’s impossible to explain, but somehow during the Q.E.D.’s lengthy build time, Jim found the “spare” moments to totally rebuild, fully reconstruct, and completely customize his highly original 1930 Great Lakes open-cockpit biplane. Onto this antique airframe he attached a smoothly gorgeously cowled and faired into place a big-power, 270-hp Russian M-14 radial engine swinging a broad, two-blade composite prop, complete with an impressive spinner. This super-customized, fully faired Great Lakes — with its massive wheelpants; low profile; long, low-angle, rakish racing windshields; and Jim’s signature red-andwhite paint scheme — was easily the finest custom antique in the Red Barn area of Wittman field at EAA Oshkosh 2009. Jim Moss envisioned and created four historical flying treasures. All four airplanes stopped onlookers at the Big Show in Oshkosh. Like Jim Younkin, Jim Moss —in his own way and his own time — vividly demonstrated what God-given talent and the creative human mind can accomplish when a proper venue like EAA AirVenture Oshkosh provides the ideal showcase facilities. The massive Moss Q.E.D. II was flown to Oshkosh and the VAA Red Barn display area by Moss’ friend and associate Rich Alldredge in July 2014. It was even more of an impact airplane in 2014 than the Super Solution had been in 2002. The Q.E.D. simply, clearly, and properly dominated EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2014. Jim’s aviation legacy will live on for years to come. He lived the 11 years it took to see his Moss Q.E.D. II masterpiece completed and taxied, and it flew shortly after Jim departed earth for heaven on September 1, 2013. It is with the greatest honor that the Vintage Aircraft Association announces that it will posthumously induct James S. “Jim” Moss into the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame on the evening of November 9, 2017, at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh. Jim’s wife, Judy, who has been a major part of all of Jim’s re-creation and restoration endeavors, will accept the honor on Jim’s behalf.
By Charles W. Harris Vintage Director Emeritus, EAA Lifetime 96978, VAA Lifetime 2158