2021 Hall of Fame Inductee-

Steve Nesse

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Vintage Airplane magazine

Steve Nesse has been actively involved with EAA since 1967 and with VAA since 1971. Steve received his private pilot certificate in 1967. In 1975 he purchased a 1946 Navion from his father. After joining EAA in 1967 at Rockford, Steve has since attended consecutive EAA conventions and has been active in VAA since its inception.

A charter member of VAA Chapter 13, Steve has served as vice president and president of that chapter.

Steve was elected to the VAA board as an adviser in 1987 and then as a director in 1989. The secretary at the time was George York, who was starting to have health problems. Butch Joyce, then president, asked Steve to fill until he was elected secretary in 1991. He continued uninterrupted as secretary until 2020 and is continuing as an active director.

Steve continues to be a dedicated volunteer.

There are several significant events where Steve displayed his abilities to be a team player and to support VAA. At the fall 1991 VAA board of directors meeting, it was decided at the suggestion of Tom Poberezny to open a new judging category, allowing aircraft produced between 1956 and 1960 to be allowed in the show area and be eligible for judging. VAA Director Dean Richardson at the time recruited Doc and Dan Knutson as chairman and co-chairman for this the new category. Oshkosh 1992 (prior to the AirVenture name) was going to be a trial run for them to learn judging and to recruit judges, as the official judging would not start until 1993.

Per Dan Knutson the first day of the 1992 judging trial run, Steve Nesse approached the newly formed judging team and introduced himself. Steve was not connected to judging, but as a VAA officer he wanted the newly formed group to feel welcome and offer his assistance in any way he could. At the same time, he also provided real world information on the ins and outs of EAA and VAA. This was like a breath of fresh air to the group, since only an hour before they were told by then chief judge George York that he didn’t believe there was a place at the event for “modern” airplanes. Steve’s continued contributions were appreciated the entire week. He displayed that he was a true team player to support moving the organization forward by providing his guidance.

In addition to his role on the VAA board of directors, he has also chaired the Tall Pines Café since 2002.

Before the days of Tall Pines, most of Steve’s time was devoted to the metal-shaping workshop. The idea for a workshop tent was put into place in 1997. There were two tents in the same area where the Vintage hangar now sits. One was for type clubs and the other was to teach people the skills of shaping metal, fabric work, etc. Steve was the chairman, and he brought in a well-respected metal fabricator to demonstrate and teach metal-shaping. In 2009, this was moved to the south side of the Vintage hangar.

Steve also served as the parade of flight chairman for two years. The parade of flight was later canceled due to safety concerns.

The idea for Tall Pines was approved in 2002, and the first location was to the south of its current spot where the road makes an S-turn shortly before amphibious aircraft parking. Since the tent was positioned along a row of pine trees there, Steve came up with the name Tall Pines Café.

 Former VAA Director John Berendt was the chairman for a short time. After the 2002 convention, John had a medical issue, and Steve replaced him.

In those days Tall Pines was operated with borrowed equipment on a chipboard floor. After the location was moved to its present spot, Steve pursued purchasing kitchen equipment and a permanent structure with a concrete floor for the kitchen. The dining area was still housed in a tent with a chipboard floor and picnic tables. This arrangement was used for several years until donations and VAA contributions allowed for a permanent structure for the dining area.

Starting in 2021, Tall Pines Café will have round, restaurant-style tables with permanent chairs. Many members have shared how much they look forward to a Tall Pines breakfast at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh every year (especially the doughnuts)!

Steve Nesse is a positive-thinking individual who has always gone above and beyond to move VAA forward, and he works tirelessly year-round, searching for equipment and looking for ways to improve the operation. VAA is proud to announce Steve Nesse as the 2021 Hall of Fame recipient.