Paul Howard Poberezny
By Mike Heuer, IAC #4
I am sure you are aware of the passing of Paul Poberezny on August 22 in Oshkosh. He was 91 years old and I doubt if there are more than a few people in the world who have lived a fuller and fulfilling life. His personality, work, inspiration, and force of will and drive affected hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and that included me in a very big way.
His biography is well known. Founder and first president of EAA, he started the organization in his basement in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and it was in that town he built EAA's first headquarters and museum. He built an entire movement from scratch, and we now see the culmination of his work not only every year in Oshkosh, but year 'round throughout the world.
For aerobatics and IAC, he was also incredibly special and important. Always the visionary, thinking ahead in the 1960s, he was very concerned about the use of homebuilt aircraft for aerobatics and gathered around him the experts of the day, to keep it safe and to fend off unwelcome regulation. He called that group the "Precision Flying Division" and later the "Aerobatic Division" of EAA. Eventually, these committees morphed into the IAC which was formed in 1970 with my father, Bob Heuer, as its first president.
Bob and his friends and colleagues took the bull by the horns, with Paul's constant support and advice, and built the foundation of what became the largest aerobatic organization in the world with hundreds of competitions held in these past 43 years. Using EAA as a model, IAC became a grassroots organization with a strong chapter structure and activities planned and organized by those local groups. They were and are the heart and soul of IAC, just as with EAA.
Paul was awarded IAC membership #1, with Bob Heuer #2, and Don Taylor #3. Again, with Paul's support and guidance, the first IAC Championships were held in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1970 and ran for three decades. Paul and Audrey were frequent visitors to the competition and also the U.S. Nationals in its early years in Sherman-Denison, Texas. They also attended many of the regional competitions we held that first year and his son, Tom, went on to become a member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team in 1972 and National Aerobatic Champion in 1973. Aerobatics was clearly in the Poberezny blood.
I personally worked for Paul for four years before my own career headed toward the airlines. I was in the office next to his and talked to him most every day for all of those years. He was a hard taskmaster, but always had a way of helping you rise to the occasion. Many of the lessons I learned at EAA I later applied in my work in aerobatics, sometimes it was the small things like answering every letter and phone call that came in, without exception, and quickly. And never forgetting the members and valuing all of the volunteers who are the lifeblood of the organization.