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Meet Dick Knapinski, EAA 494456

Media and Public Relations Specialist

Randy Hansen

Dick is the guy who is often in the media’s “firing line” when questions about aviation and homebuilt aircraft arise. He’s been with the EAA staff since May 1992, handling media inquiries, member contacts, and the occasional misfit question that rolls into the office. Dick has a wide breadth of knowledge on EAA programs, history, and activities - or at least knows where to find it or who’s responsible for it.

He also works on outreach for such things as the EAA AirVenture Museum, B-17 and Tri-Motor tours, and of course, AirVenture. He is the lead organizer of EAA Press Headquarters at Oshkosh, when nearly 1,000 of the world’s media descend on AirVenture for one week to cover The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.

Dick’s aviation background began as a child when he accidentally glued plastic model airplane parts to his parents’ kitchen table on a regular basis. After his first visit to the EAA fly-in Oshkosh in the late 1970s, he was completely hooked on flying. Dick holds a private pilot certificate and has done his share of rivet pulling, aluminum polishing, and other thankless aircraft building/owning functions. He pilots a 1967 Piper Cherokee, an airplane he touts as amazingly rugged, given some of his landings.

The path to the EAA staff came through the media world. After graduating in broadcast communications, Dick worked in radio in Wisconsin for more than a decade, collecting more than a dozen Associated Press and United Press International awards. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter, covering diverse assignments that included NFL and college football, as well as the NCAA basketball tournament and the Super Bowl. That writing background serves him well at EAA for everything from writing for the media to contributing text for EAA’s online and print communications. He will also be heavily involved in EAA’s new online community efforts scheduled to launch in mid-2009.

The role Dick plays within EAA is a critical one. Media outside the aviation community often have or reinforce misconceptions about general aviation flying. Dick handles dozens of media inquiries each month on topics from Young Eagles to homebuilts to aircraft accidents. He also assists EAA chapters and members who may have questions about the media or are preparing to work with the media in their communities. In his work, Dick strives to educate the media and public that flying is a safe, responsible pursuit while at the same time, educating aviators that our image in media coverage depends on all of us - that safe, responsible flying will do more to enhance the image of our passion than all the public relations campaigns and advertising combined.

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