Rod Hightower Departs EAA; Pelton New EAA Chairman

Controversial leader exits organization abruptly.

Rod Hightower

Rod Hightower

Rod Hightower

As we reported in a Flying eNews flash yesterday, the EAA Board announced Monday that president and CEO Rod Hightower resigned effective immediately and that former Cessna president and CEO Jack Pelton had assumed the title of chairman of the board of EAA to lead the transition of the organization to new leadership. In its official press release, EAA said that ongoing relocation issues with Hightower's family were the reason for the separation.

At a 1:30 pm Monday meeting at EAA Headquarters, Pelton told employees of the news. In a press release issued shortly after Hightower's departure, Pelton emphasized that, "As an association [EAA] must remain focused on the original mission of our founder, Paul H. Poberezny, to welcome all members no matter what they fly, celebrate our volunteers, and treat our employees fairly." (For more on the departure, see my Going Direct blog.)

Hightower came on board at EAA in July 2010 as part of a transition plan to replace retiring longtime EAA head Tom Poberezny, but his two-year tenure was a controversial one, marked by dozens of departures of longtime EAA employees and widespread member dissatisfaction, much of which came to the surface at the organization’s annual AirVenture fly-in this past summer.

The board has not announced a timetable for finding a new leader, but Pelton assured employees and the membership that he would be “working closely with the EAA Board of Directors to ensure a seamless transition to a new leader.”