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Paul H. Poberezny: Salutes

Our beloved Republic will never be out of debt to Paul Poberezny. With his similarly dedicated wife, Audrey - and now on to a next generation - the Pobereznys have militantly manned the ramparts against those who would fence off the sky. Even more significantly, Paul's diligent example of self-discipline and creative enterprise makes it good to be an American.

Paul Harvey (1918-2009)
Legendary radio newscaster

After dreaming about flying as a child, I've spent all of my adult life as a pilot. I thought no one could love aviation more than me...until I met Paul Poberezny. Here was a man who was able to spend his entire day thinking about flying, while I had to concentrate on hotels. In 1983, Paul persuaded me to deliver the keynote speech at the grand opening of the EAA AirVenture Museum. I reluctantly agreed, only because Sen. Barry Goldwater had to cancel and Paul needed me to step in. I treasure my friendship with Paul and the EAA.

Barron Hilton
pilot and businessman

I first met Paul in the early 80s after having attended the EAA airshow in Oshkosh for several years. We thought of him as President Paul in those days. The organization and event that he started was the driving force behind my enthusiasm for aviation. Meeting him that first time, put me in awe of such a man for what he had started.

We did not see the importance of the EAA in general, or Paul specifically, in those days of the 70s and 80s. As we now reflect back on the l past 60 years, try to imagine aviation without the EAA. It would certainly look far different than it does today. The EAA has be the driving force for preserving and fostering the enthusiasm of aviation. Without the enthusiasm and passion for this industry, we would not have seen the great development of GA through the 60s and 70s and, I believe, GA may not have even survived the late 80s and 90s. Paul created an organization that allowed, fostered and promoted creativity and perseverance for aviation. EAA allowed us to dream of something different, and then showed us a path forward for that dream.

Aviation is an industry that has a partner in the EAA that drives a vision of being able to dream of a different future. Paul took the idea of being able to build your own airplane, and share it with other people that have these same aspirations. From this simple idea and passion for aviation, a new market was born and prospered, which saved an industry.

Dale Klapmeier
Co-Founder, Cirrus Design

I saw Paul Poberezny during my first trip to OSH in 1979 and then met him in 1984 when my T-34 received the award as the Most Improved Warbird. During my years of formation flying with the T-34s and T-28s and nearly thirty years of performing in the Air Show, Paul always greeted me with a smile, remembered my name and took time to have a conversation. Paul has inspired me and countless thousands of others to get involved in the promotion of aviation and ... "to explore this vast ocean of air above us." He is truly an iconic figure in aviation!

Julie Clark
Capt. NWA (ret.) and air show pilot (T-34 and T-28)

Paul Poberezny is one of my favorite people and a role model of the highest order. His history, what he created and the spirit in which he created the world's largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts, speaks for itself. I have two stories about Paul that made me understood who he is, and speak to why I admire him so much, both of which happened at Oshkosh.

Once, I was sitting with a group of performers under the tent at show center. Paul drove up in VW Red One, got out of the car and without saying a word, proceeded to start picking up little bits of paper and trash from the ground. After a few seconds we got the message, and joined in picking up trash. I'll never forget that and I still pick up even the tiniest bit of trash and always think of Paul while I'm doing it.

Another time and again at show center under the tent, Paul heard a few of us snickering about a performer who had dinged his prop when he ground looped earlier that day. Paul listened to us for a moment and then said, "You never know what happens inside someone else's cockpit." Point taken. Since then I have always held my tongue in that situation.

He has taught me a lot about being a better person, whether he knows it or not. Thank you, Paul. We love you.

Patty Wagstaff
National Aerobatic Champion and National Aviation Hall of Fame member

Paul Poberezny launched the modern amateur-built aircraft movement in 1953 when he organized the first meeting of 31 enthusiasts and called them the Experimental Aircraft Association.

From this small beginning, he nurtured the EAA through difficult years until it grew into a worldwide organization with 176,000 members in more than 100 countries. Paul also began the annual EAA Fly-In that has become the premier event for the entire general aviation industry.

No other individual or organization has done more to promote sport aviation, or to assist and encourage the designers, builders, and pilots of sport aircraft. For anyone who ever met Paul, his passion, enthusiasm, and vision for EAA and aviation in general left a lasting impression.

He was a unique and unforgettable figure whose legacy touches all who love and pursue aviation.

Gen. Jack Dailey
Director, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

This year, 2013, marked my attendance for the 35th consecutive year at Oshkosh. What makes me happy is my two pilot sons have always been there with me. So you might say my sons and I have grown up with Paul. And what an influence Paul had on them. When his little red bug came around my kids would point and say there he is Dad, our second father, the father of aviation. Jimmy, Perry and I have always considered Oshkosh our most enjoyable event of the year. And you know what? We still do. And Paul made it all a reality.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Pilot and EAA member

Paul Poberezny was a true original who embodied aviation’s best attributes of teamwork, craftsmanship, achievement, and service. To say he was a visionary is an understatement. He focused his many attributes on making the Experimental Aircraft Association what it is today, and that is clearly an outstanding legacy that benefits all of us.

Craig Fuller
President/CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

Paul was a great guy and he’ll be missed. But his legacy lives on!

Sebastien Heintz
Zenith Aircraft Company

It would have been a far different world for all of us without Paul's achievement.

Terry Schubert
Central States Association Newsletter Editor

Aviation is an industry with more than its fair share of legends and heroes, but few if any have had a more visible, significant and lasting impact on the industry as Paul Poberezny. He started an association in his basement that became a grassroots movement built on shared passion. Today, that aviation community gathers each year for what has become the world’s greatest air show.

Paul often said that he considered himself a 'millionaire,' thanks to the million friends he made throughout his decades of service to aviation. I believe that he significantly understated that number, a reflection of his humble nature. Each of us mourns his passing today, but we also feel gratitude, knowing his profound impact upon general aviation will be felt for decades to come.

Ed Bolen
President/CEO, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

I say simply "Paul," and that's all I need to say because there is only one Paul in aviation. We might characterize that which started in Paul's basement and grew into the strong organization called EAA, and the annual event those of us who have been around for a while still call Oshkosh, as nothing short of miraculous. But no miracles were involved. Paul accomplished what he did through hard work, tenacity, good decisions and a love of aviation. In fact, Paul has done more than any single individual to encourage everyday people to fly their own aircraft and love them as well. His passion and spirit will live on for generations in the organization he built.

Hal Shevers
Founder, Sporty's Pilot Shop

Paul always said he felt like a millionaire because he made a million friends in the aviation industry. Actually, the general aviation industry should think of ourselves as millionaires amongst Paul, because he gave us a million reasons to be passionate about aviation. He leaves a great mission for all of us to carry on in the future.

Paula Derks
President, Aircraft Electronics Association

He was an inspiration to me and many other builders and pilots. Most of all, however, he championed the belief that flying should be available to everyone and EAA became the vehicle to make that happen. That, in my humble opinion, will be his greatest legacy. We all will miss him.

Ed Phillips
aviation journalist and author

Paul Poberezny was an inspirational leader whose wise counsel helped shape Women in Aviation, International. One January day in 1995, I asked Paul if I could have about 10 or 15 minutes of his time. We sat down and I asked him, "If you were to begin EAA all over again today, what would you do the same and what would you do differently?" We sat and talked for almost an hour and a half and he shared many concepts including his conviction that chapters were one of the strengths behind EAA. This advice is one of the reasons WAI Chapters exist and are a vital part of our organization. He was selfless in his advice and in the next few months as WAI was being formed, I referred to my notes from that conversation quite often. ... When starting Women in Aviation, he was encouraging, helpful and generous in sharing his insights and ideas.

Over the years, I served as an EAA board member and always treasured the conversations I had with Paul. Today countless women benefit from WomenVenture at AirVenture so he continues to inspire and serve. Paul Poberezny was a good friend to me, and I will miss him.

Dr. Peggy Chabrian
President, Women in Aviation International (WAI)

Over the many years (14 in a row) that I have travelled to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, I had the good fortune to meet Paul and I was always impressed by his presence. In Oshkosh this year on the Friday whilst the international parade was happening I spotted Paul in RED ONE and managed to get a good photograph of this great man in aviation for the last time. ... EAA will live on as a tribute to the unselfish work that this single minded pilot who had a fantastic aviation career did for grass roots aviation.

Athol Franz
Publisher, African Pilot magazine

It is difficult to separate Paul Poberezny and the enormous impact of EAA on the city of Oshkosh. This was something that began a long time ago by a creative and dedicated person who in the beginning probably had no idea it was going to grow in magnitude and reputation to what EAA did. He was one of those far-sighted, visionary people that at each stage moved the organization forward.

Stephen Hintz
former Mayor, City of Oshkosh

Oshkosh has long been legendary in aviation circles around the world, and to Paul's credit, he was the visionary that years ago in the basement of the Poberezny home crafted what would become this global community of not just pilots but aviation enthusiasts.

Ron Kaplan
Enshrinement Director, National Aviation Hall of Fame

He's an icon. What Paul did was to preserve the real roots and values of those people that are aviators. His contribution to aviation is just that. He became a facilitator and that made all of the difference in all of us that want to pursue a career in aviation or creating airplanes and the ability to fly freely and have that extra freedom that so many other countries don’t have.

John Monnett
Founder, Sonex Aircraft

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