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An Extra-Special Flight

Paul Poberezny takes granddaughter up for likely his last B-17 flight

Paul Poberezny and Audra Hoy
Paul Poberezny and Audra Hoy share a special moment together in a special airplane.

Emergency Landing
EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower, who was on board during the flight, congratulates Paul after they landed. (Photos by Brady Lane/EAA)

April 4, 2012 - EAA Founder Paul Poberezny has flown nearly 500 aircraft types and logged more than 30,000 flight hours in his 90-plus years, but he called his 30-minute flight on mid-day Wednesday morning in EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast "the highlight of my career." In what he claimed would likely be his last flight in the Flying Fortress, Paul was accompanied by his granddaughter, Audra Hoy. For Audra, a budding pilot herself, it was her first time up in the B-17. She and her husband, Mike, are also expecting their first child.

"I not only flew with my granddaughter, but my future great grandchild," Paul beamed. "It was good to get her some experience in a different airplane."

With EAA B-17 pilots Sean Elliott and George Daubner also on board, they taxied out just before noon from EAA's Kermit Weeks Hangar and took off from Wittman Regional Airport's Runway 36. After leveling off over Lake Winnebago, Audra took the controls from the right seat and did some coordinated turns while Grandpa watched and offered advice.

"The whole sight picture was a lot different than a 172 or a Cub," she said. "But it was just great. Not as difficult as I was expecting it to be."

After landing back on 36 and taxiing back to Weeks, Paul exited the aircraft and remarked, "I certainly can feel my age now," as he stepped onto the ramp. "But this is probably the last time for me." His first flight in a Flying Fortress occurred 67 years ago - a 1945 ferry flight from LA to Cheyenne, Wyoming, he said.

EAA acquired the airplane in 1983 as a donation from the "B-17s Around the World," a group headed by Dr. Bill Harrison, then spent the next decade-plus restoring it to its former glory. EAA began touring the aircraft around the U.S. in 1994, and is preparing for this year's tour schedule, opening on April 20-22 in Torrance, California.

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