Paul Poberezny Dies at 91

EAA founder inspired generations to build and fly airplanes.

EAA Founder Paul Poberezny

EAA Founder Paul Poberezny

** Paul Poberezny**

One of the great heroes of general aviation, Paul Poberezny, died today at the age of 91. Poberezny inspired thousands of people to build and fly their own airplanes by sharing his own experience as a homebuilder. He founded the Experimental Aircraft Association in 1953, where he served as president until 1989 when his son, Tom Poberezny, took over the role. Paul Poberezny continued as the organization’s chairman until his retirement in 2010. His contribution to the small aircraft community earned him a long list of awards and trophies, including a spot in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association and the Lindbergh Eagle Award.

Poberezny’s first airplane was a 1928 American Eagle, which his father purchased for him. But Poberezny eventually decided to build his own airplane. He gathered a few enthusiasts and formed the EAA at what was then called the Curtiss-Wright Field (now Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The same airport hosted the first annual EAA Fly-in that same year. The fly-in eventually moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and adopted the name AirVenture, which has become the largest fly-in in the world with hundreds of thousands of pilots and other aviation enthusiasts migrating from all over the world.

In addition to his contributions to general aviation, Poberezny served in the military for nearly 30 years as a pilot, test pilot and combat veteran. Before retiring from the military, Poberezny became the first pilot to have received all seven aviation wings in the military as a glider pilot, service pilot, rated pilot, liaison pilot, senior pilot, Army aviator and command pilot.

With more than 30,000 hours logged, Poberezny has flown nearly 500 different types of aircraft including more than 170 amateur-built aircraft.

In a statement through the EAA, while asking the public to respect their privacy, the Poberezny family stated: "As Paul often said, he considers himself a millionair because through aviation he made a million friends."

We welcome your comments on flyingmag.com. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.