Tom Poberezny

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Tom Poberezny
Tom Poberezny 17 April 2004.JPG
Poberezny at the Sun 'n Fun airshow in 2004
Born (1946-10-03) October 3, 1946 (age 70)
Nationality US
Alma mater Northwestern University
Organization Experimental Aircraft Association
Known for EAA President, Eagles Aerobatic Team member, Young Eagles Co-Founder
Parent(s) Paul Poberezny

Thomas P. "Tom" Poberezny (born October 3, 1946) is a former aerobatic world champion, as well as chairman of the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In and Convention from 1977 to 2011 and president of EAA from 1989 to 2010. He succeeded his father, Paul Poberezny, who founded the organization in 1953.[1][2] Tom is also one of the founders of the Young Eagles, an EAA program created to give children the opportunity to expereince flight and to receive education around General Aviation.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Eagles Aerobatic Team aircraft flown by Poberezny, Hillard, and Soucy on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum

Tom Poberezny was surrounded by aviation from the very early stages of his life. Because of his father's key involvement with EAA, the basement of Tom's childhood home in Hales Corners, Wisconsin was considered "the regional social center of [aircraft] homebuilding."[4] Poberezny graduated from Northwestern University in 1970 with a degree in industrial engineering, and became preoccupied with aviation soon after. He joined the US National Unlimited Aerobatic Team and was part of the team that won the World Championship in 1972 at Salon, France. In 1973 he won the individual US National Unlimited Aerobatic Championship.[1]

In 1971, Tom Poberezny, Charlie Hillard, and Gene Soucy formed the aerobatic team of The Red Devils (soon renamed the Eagles Aerobatic Team) and went on to perform at airshows until the Daytona Skyfest in 1995.[1][5] This makes the Eagles the longest-performing aerobatic team with one group of members.[6] Poberezny also appeared as a pilot in the movie Cloud Dancer in 1980.[7]

Poberezny was appointed to chairman of the EAA Fly-In Convention (now known as the EAA AirVenture Fly-In) in 1977. This annual event takes place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and attracts over 750,000 visitors with 10,000 aircraft from 68 countries, making it the world's largest aviation gathering.[8] In the late 1970s, he led the campaign to build the present-day EAA AirVenture Museum at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI.[5]

In 1989 Poberezny was elected president of the Experimental Aircraft Association.[9] EAA promotes the hobby of building and flying small aircraft and has over 180,000 members worldwide. In 1992 he led the creation of the Young Eagles program, which introduces young people to aviation. The goal of giving one million kids a ride in an aircraft was met in October 2003;[5] and in July 2016, the two millionth Young Eagle was flown by actor and former chairman of the organization, Harrison Ford.[10]

Poberezny was a member of the Centennial of Flight Commission,[11] a six-person board created by Congress to coordinate the nation's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic first flight.[1]

Poberezny has also promoted the EAA's role in the light-sport aircraft category, bringing new opportunities for people to learn to fly or keep flying.[12]

In March 2009, Paul Poberezny stepped down as chairman of EAA and Tom Poberezny took on these duties as well, with Rod Hightower as president and CEO from September 7, 2010. Tom Poberezny retained the positions of chairman of both EAA and AirVenture.[13]

On July 26, 2011, Poberezny and the EAA announced that he would be retiring from EAA effective August 1, 2011. The president and CEO, Rod Hightower, would assume Poberezny's duties until a replacement was found.[14] However, on 22 October 2012, Hightower resigned as president and CEO of EAA, and on the same day, Jack J. Pelton was elected chairman of the EAA board of directors. He issued a press announcement saying that he would assume all leadership duties of the organization until suitable replacements could be named.[15]

Poberezny currently serves on the Board of Directors for Garmin International and the Advisory Board for Aircraft Kit Industry Association (AKIA).[16][17]


Poberezny was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame of Wisconsin in October 1996.[1] He was also awarded the Distinguished Wisconsin Aviator Award in May 2007. Past recipients of this award include astronaut Mark Lee, Major General Albert Wilkening, Major General Fred R Sloan, and astronaut Jim Lovell.[9]

In early 2013, Poberezny received the prestigious Living Legend of Aviation award at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, California.[12] Later that year, a campaign and website was launched dedicated to honoring Poberezny and his accomplishments during the 20 years he led EAA. The website also included a Roster of Support for others to add to the cause. Notable proponents behind the effort consisted of aircraft designer, Burt Rutan, Cirrus Aircraft CEO and Co-founder, Dale Klapmeier, and former air show pilot, Bob Hoover.[18][19]

Poberezny was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame on 1 October 2016 in Dayton, Ohio.[3][20]


  1. ^ a b c d e Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. "Hall of Fame Inductee Tom Poberezny". Retrieved March 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ "NBAA Salutes EAA's Tom Poberezny for Remarkable Contributions to Industry". 
  3. ^ a b EAA. "Tom Poberezny to Be Inducted Into National Aviation Hall of Fame". EAA News. 
  4. ^ Gustafson, David. "TOM POBEREZNY AND THE MATURING OF EAA". Retrieved 2014-11-08. 
  5. ^ a b c "Tom Poberezny one-sheet" (PDF). Experimental Aircraft Association. April 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Charlie Hillard, Air Show Hall of Fame". Retrieved July 11, 2008. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "AirVenture – A History of The World's Largest Airshow". Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Tom Poberezny Named A 'Distinguished Wisconsin Aviator'". Experimental Aircraft Association. May 21, 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Harrison Ford Flies 2 Millionth Young Eagle". Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Centennial of Flight Home Page". 
  12. ^ a b [1] EAA News (23 January 2013), Tom Poberezny Named A Living Legend
  13. ^ "EAA Names Tom Poberezny Chairman". Experimental Aircraft Association. March 4, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Tom Poberezny retires as EAA chairman". 
  15. ^ [2] Flying Magazine (22 October 2012), Hightower Out, Pelton is new EAA Chairman
  16. ^ "Thomas P. Poberezny". Garmin. 
  17. ^ "Advisory Board". AKIA. 
  18. ^ General Aviation News Staff. " launches". General Aviation News. 
  19. ^ Pia Bergqvist. "Petition Urges EAA to Honor Tom Poberezny". Flying Magazine. 
  20. ^ "Poberezny Joins Hall Of Fame". AVweb. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 

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