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So How Does Homebuilt Judging Work at Oshkosh?

Ian Brown, editor, Bits and Pieces

August 2015 - You can find out detailed information about the aircraft judging here, but it’s 18 pages to digest, and it’s just one of the six categories judged during the week. You can imagine how many total volunteer judges it takes to evaluate the 2,500-3,000 showplanes submitted. It was possible at Oshkosh to walk up to the judges’ shack, offer a Canadian greeting, and ask some quick questions.

When you arrive at Homebuilt Registration you will be given the option of a card for your propeller and a “judge me” sticker. You won’t be judged unless you add the sticker and complete the information on the card, including the all-important cell phone number (so they can contact you when you win an award). If you didn’t park your homebuilt in the Homebuilts area, it will not be judged. It would be too burdensome for all the judges to cover the whole site looking for aircraft out of their allocated area.

So How Does Homebuilt Judging Work at Oshkosh?

Judging goes on every day that the show is open until noon on Friday. The awards are presented Saturday night in the Homebuilders Hangar. Multiple judges in golf carts are cruising the Homebuilt area—camping or not—and they may judge the same aircraft more than once. They expect you to have your engine cowling open or removed if you want the engine installation to be judged. If it’s not judged, they will obviously not be able to give you more than an average rating for your engine installation. I spoke to the head homebuilt judge, and he was very forthcoming with this information. Arriving at the homebuilt judging building, I saw multiple golf carts just leaving for the day to take a close look at every aircraft bearing a “judge me” sticker.

Aircraft are judged in the condition they are seen. If you want to have your interior and instrument panel judged, they need to be visible. So you are expected to leave your canopy cover off all week…and check for bird poop every morning! Most hopefuls are seen every morning wiping off the dew and primping and preening their aircraft, although, as you’ll see, initial appearance doesn’t rate highly in the eyes of the judges. That “wow factor” paint job might impress you or me, but it’s not really the paint that will impress the judges. Here are some tips on what the homebuilt judges are looking for. Click here to read more.

David Juckem, vice-chairman of Homebuilt Judging, says:

  1. Safety: We are all about safety of flight when it comes to our aircraft, and that means proper use of hardware, well-maintained engines and airframes, using accepted design and build practices and, of course, materials.
  2. Alignment: Are all the components of the airframe in proper relation to each other? (Example: Do the vertical and horizontal stabilizers form a 90° angle?)
  3. Placards: Are the instruments labelled correctly? Does the fuel cap show type and quantity of fuel? etc.
  4. Craftsmanship: Are the rivets driven properly? Do the rib tapes show attention to detail? Is the Fiberglas (where visible) straight and wetted out properly? Are panel lines straight and of equal width?
  5. Finish: I almost didn’t include this one because, while a nice paint job is certainly a pleasure to look at, it is the least important of the things I look at when judging an aircraft.

The Grand Champion Gold Lindy homebuilt winners this year were Thomas Irion for a beautiful kit-built Velocity XL-FG and Kenneth Orloff for a plansbuilt Marquart MA-5.

So How Does Homebuilt Judging Work at Oshkosh? 

Thomas Irion’s gorgeous Velocity XL-FG

So How Does Homebuilt Judging Work at Oshkosh? 

Kenneth Orloff’s beautiful plansbuilt Marquart MA-5

Both hail from California. Congratulations to both of them and all the competitors.

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