Six of the world’s finest restored vintage aircraft will travel to Oshkosh, Wis., in July to vie for top honors in the first National Aviation Hall of Fame’s “Best of the Best” People’s Choice Award competition. EAA AirVenture, held July 23-29, will be the host venue for this public competition.
Hundreds of thousands of AirVenture visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite from among the six aircraft, each having previously been juried by a team of experts for its authenticity and craftsmanship and deemed exemplary in representing aviation history. Vying for the trophy are a 1927 Waco Model 10-T, owned by Alan Hoeweler; 1930 Kreider Reisner Model 21, owned by Pat McNerney; 1939 Spartan Executive, owned by Kent and Sandy Blankenburg; 1939 Grumman Duck, owned by Chuck Greenhill; 1941 Lockheed P-38F Lightning, Glacier Girl, owned by Rod Lewis; and a 1943 Piper L-4 Grasshopper, owned by June and Colin Powers.
The NAHF and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational joined to create and sponsor this new “Best of the Best” competition. The NAHI contests are a joint effort under the auspices of Rolls-Royce North America, Inc., NAHF, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Reno Air Racing Foundation.
“The NAHI was founded in 1998 with the goal of encouraging the restoration and preservation of our nation’s aviation treasures,” said Ken Perich, NAHI executive director. “The first invitational was held during the Reno Air Races in 1999 and immediately became a highly competitive annual showcase. Participating aircraft must be at least 45 years old and restored to airworthy condition; each one is literally a flying museum piece.”
The inaugural “Best of the Best” event is a friendly competition, open to former recipients of one of the following NAHI trophies: the Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy, the NAHF “People’s Choice” trophy or one of the three competition category trophies (antique, classic or warbird).
“A panel of NAHI judges has deemed each of the six participating aircraft to be an extraordinary example overall or in its class,” explained Ron Kaplan, NAHF executive director. “The six are among the finest aircraft flying today. Spectators participating at AirVenture will ultimately decide which one earns distinction as the ‘Best of the Best.'”
EAA officials are hoping this will become a popular annual event.
“This program allows the public to vote on their personal favorite from the group, each of which is a masterful example of aircraft restoration,” stated Adam Smith, vice president, EAA.
The “Best of the Best” aircraft will be displayed adjacent to AeroShell Square throughout AirVenture, offering the 600,000-plus guests the opportunity to stop by, take a close look and place their “People’s Choice” vote at the NAHF tent. The owners and restorers of all six will be available to meet the public at various times throughout AirVenture and are eager to share their knowledge of the people, history and hard work behind their unique restorations.
The “Best of the Best” People’s Choice award ceremony will be held on AirVenture’s AeroShell Square at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, and is open to all EAA visitors. EAA, NAHI and NAHF officials will present the trophy, and several NAHF enshrinees are also expected to participate, including former astronauts and record-setting test pilots.
“We’re delighted that several of our very own aviation legends will help us present the honor and trophy,” Kaplan said. “This prominent event offers the Hall of Fame a unique opportunity to weave the colorful history of our pioneers of flight into the fabric of today’s aviation world. We appreciate the dedication and passion of the people involved in keeping this history alive and flying for all of us to enjoy.”
For more information, visit [http://www.nationalaviation.org], [http://www.heritagetrophy.com] or [http://www.airventure.org].