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Best Friends in Flight

Lifelong bond forged at EAA Air Academy

Aaron and Tyler
Aaron Wypyszynski and Tyler Sibley became best friends through the EAA Air Academy.

Aaron's 172
Aaron and his C-172, originally owned by Steve Wittman.

February 23, 2011 — Tyler Sibley, EAA Lifetime 739864, and Aaron Wypyszynski, EAA Lifetime 579057, grew up in different areas of the country but shared a keen passion for aviation that brought them together some 10 years ago at the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh. Born just three weeks apart (Tyler is older), they’ve been best friends ever since.

In 2000, Tyler, a Navy vet who now works for Boeing as a UAV pilot overseas, hopped a Greyhound bus from his home in Minnesota to AirVenture Oshkosh carrying all his stuff for the week in a duffle bag and soda cooler. Some EAAers took Tyler under their wings and made sure he survived his first Oshkosh. The following year Tyler was sponsored to attend the EAA Air Academy.

Aaron, of Meridianville, Alabama, became a lifelong aviation enthusiast early on when his parents would take him to the local GA airport. He stayed interested, achieving the 16th birthday solo/17th birthday checkride scenario successfully, then earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from Purdue University. He’s now working as an aeronautical engineer on a UAV project. He’s also Young Eagles coordinator for EAA Chapter 190 in Huntsville, and has flown close to 100 kids himself.

So it was aviation that brought the two together. EAA – from first meeting at the Air Academy to annual AirVenture reunions – cemented their friendship. Last year they both became EAA Lifetime Members.

“EAA became my aviation family,” Aaron said. “And the Air Academy became a major part of my life.” Right before Oshkosh 2010, he acquired a 1959 Cessna 172 that, according to FAA registration records, was first owned by legendary Steve Wittman. He’s listed as the owner from 1959-1963.

Aaron intends to fly his 172 back to Oshkosh this summer and meet up with Tyler and other former Air Academy attendees in Paul’s Woods - where they always camp together. This year he’ll bring an Academy attendee who’s being sponsored by Chapter 190. Meanwhile Tyler and his local Chapter 25 in Minneapolis are also co-sponsoring a kid for the academy. Tyler also intends on flying into Oshkosh with an Air Academy student in the right seat.

“Aaron really is a great example of what the Young Eagles program is doing for aviation,” Tyler commented. “He started out as a Young Eagle and is taking it full circle and then some.

“He’s doing some great things for the EAA.”

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