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Jim Irwin Recognized With Freedom of Flight Award


July, 2023 — Jim Irwin, CEO of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., has had a life full of aviation. Aircraft Spruce has been an essential supporter of EAA, and Jim has helped develop and sustain that relationship. Because of that, he is being awarded the 2023 Freedom of Flight Award, which is bestowed annually to recognize contributions to aviation that closely mirror the integrity, entrepreneurship, and innovativeness of EAA members.

Jim’s parents, Flo and Bob Irwin, founded Aircraft Spruce Co. in 1965, selling only aircraft-grade spruce. Over the years, the company grew its product catalog, as well as its employees and locations, adding facilities in Georgia and Canada in addition to its original location in California.

After growing up and working in the family business, Jim Irwin, EAA Lifetime 209874, acquired the company and became president in 1980.

“When they started the business in 1965, I was 10 years old, and it was in our family home; I grew up around it,” Jim said. “It was a very small business and interesting to me because it was in aviation, and it was a natural progression that I grew up in the business and had the opportunity to continue it. When we took it over, it was around 25 employees in one location, and now it is over 300 employees in nine locations, so it has come a long way, and [it’s] great to be a part of the journey.”

Jim is also an active multiengine- and instrument-rated pilot with more than 5,000 hours. Throughout his time as president of Aircraft Spruce, he has nurtured the company’s relationship with EAA, and has great memories of and respect for the Pobereznys, as well as current CEO/Chairman Jack J. Pelton.

“EAA has been a big part of our suc-cess over the years; their members have made our company what it is today,” Jim said. “Through the years, as we have grown, we have tried to be as involved as we could in different programs they have, like Young Eagles and BuildAPlane, and tried to support EAA’s efforts in the way their members have supported us. It has been a great rela-tionship that we want to continue to grow and help the organization in any way we can.”

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