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The Experimental Aircraft Association was founded in 1953 by Paul H. Poberezny, who served as the organization’s president until 1989 then chairman of the board from until 2009. It has grown from a handful of aviation enthusiasts to an international organization representing virtually the entire spectrum of recreational aviation.
Paul Poberezny, the leader of a small group of aviation enthusiasts who had been assembling at his home on an irregular basis, founds the Experimental Aircraft Association and is elected as its first President. On January 26, 1953, Poberezny calls the first official meeting of EAA at Curtiss-Wright (now Timmerman) Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The group originally gathered together to aid and assist amateur aircraft builders. However, its purposes quickly encompassed the promotion of all facets of recreational aviation and the promotion of aviation safety.
The organization derives its name from the "Experimental Aircraft" category, which is assigned to airplanes used for recreational and educational purposes only. Membership is open to everyone interested in aviation.
The first issue of the official EAA newsletter - The Experimenter - is published. The newsletter is originally written, typed and mimeographed in Paul and Audrey Poberezny's basement and eventually evolves into Sport Aviation, EAA's flagship publication.
September 1953 The first annual EAA Fly-in Convention is held at Curtiss-Wright Airport in Milwaukee, with 21 aircraft and about 150 people attending. It marks the official business and social gathering of the fledgling EAA. It is also an effort by Paul Poberezny to bolster an ailing Milwaukee "air pageant."
EAA member Ray Stits requests permission to establish an EAA chapter in Riverside, Calif. EAA Chapter 1 is the first of 1,000 worldwide chapters that provide local activities for aviation enthusiasts.
1954 Feature articles about EAA begin appearing in FLYING magazine and MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED. These feature articles draw early attention to EAA and boost membership.
May, June, July 1955 MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED magazine features a series of articles on the construction of the "Baby Ace" airplane. Paul Poberezny modified and improved the design of the original Corben Baby Ace. Articles on the airplane and its construction generate intense interest in EAA.
The first issue of Sport Aviation, EAA's flagship publication, is mailed to EAA members.
August 1959 The EAA Fly-in Convention outgrows its convention site at Curtiss-Wright Field in Milwaukee. Rockford, Illinois, is selected as the new site of the annual EAA Convention.
April 1962 The EAA Air Museum Foundation is incorporated to permit tax-deductible donations. The foundation will eventually develop the world’s largest private collection of aircraft and aviation-related artifacts.
August 1964 EAA Headquarters is moved from the basement of the Pobereznys' home to a new building on property acquired in Franklin, Wisconsin.
December 1966 EAA offices quickly outgrow their new Headquarters building. As a result, a new Museum, office complex, and restoration facility are added to the EAA Headquarters site.
November 1969 The EAA board of directors votes to move the annual fly-in convention from Rockford, Illinois, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The first event at Oshkosh will be held the following August.
1971 The EAA Aviation Foundation embarks on a research and development program to prove the utility, economy and safety of using unleaded automobile fuel in certain types of aircraft.
August 1971 Three EAA divisions are established to cater to their specialized activities: The Antique/Classic Division (now Vintage Aircraft Association), the International Aerobatic Club and Warbirds of America. Each division has its own board and newsletter.
August 1976 Tom Poberezny, son of Paul Poberezny, is named chairman of the annual EAA Fly-In Convention and Sport Aviation Exhibition. The 1976 Convention is a milestone in the history of aviation as John Moody, the "father" of the modern ultralight movement, displays his powered hang glider for the first time.
1977 On the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's historic solo Atlantic flight, a meticulously accurate reproduction of The Spirit of St. Louis built in the EAA Aviation Foundation's restoration shop, embarks on a cross-country commemorative tour. This tour is aimed at rekindling America's interest in its aviation history.
1978 The EAA Aviation Foundation, through Project Schoolflight, commissions an exact replica of Orville and Wilbur Wright's "Flyer" to be constructed by students at Blackhawk Technical School in Janesville, Wisconsin. The "Flyer" will become the centerpiece of the EAA Aviation Foundation's Museum.
1981 EAA establishes the first ultralight organization in the U.S. by forming the EAA Ultralight Association.
August 1982 Construction begins on the new EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh.
June 1983 EAA successfully petitions the FAA for an exemption to FAR Part 103 governing Ultralight operations. The exemption permits flight training in two-place ultralights.
The new EAA Aviation Center is dedicated in Oshkosh. The 100,000-square foot facility includes the international headquarters of EAA and the EAA Aviation Foundation, as well as the world-class EAA Air Adventure Museum.
EAA announces the establishment of an educational Air Academy for young people ages 15-17.
The 32nd annual EAA International Fly-In Convention is highlighted by the arrival of Voyager on July 29. It was the first major public exhibition of the unique aircraft that went on to circle the globe non-stop without refueling in December 1986.
The 33rd annual EAA International Fly-In Convention celebrates "The World of Flight," with the arrival of the British Airways’ Concorde for the first appearance of the supersonic jet in the Midwest.
The EAA Ultralight Association is consolidated into the general framework of EAA.
Pioneer Airport, which is located directly behind the EAA Aviation Center, is created to capture the spirit of the early pioneers of flight and fly some of the EAA Aviation Foundation's collection of antique aircraft.
October 1986 The EAA Aviation Foundation's replica of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis is retired and put on museum display. The airplane was seen by millions of people during travels to more than 210 cities in the United States and Canada in 1976-77 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lindbergh's historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
The EAA Air Museum becomes the first aviation-only museum in the country to receive accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM).
EAA's Spirit of St. Louis replica comes out of retirement and arrives in Paris to re-enact Charles Lindbergh's landing at LeBourget Field on the 60th anniversary of his historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Piloted by airline captain and longtime EAA member Verne Jobst, the "Spirit" also attends the Paris Air Show.
May 1988 The new Voyager Exhibit at the EAA Air Adventure Museum includes a mock up of Voyager's cockpit area that was made from the same molds as the original airplane.
Paul Poberezny announces his resignation as EAA President after 37 years in office. Four months later, he is elected to the new EAA Chairman of the Board position. Paul’s son, Tom Poberezny, is elected by EAA members as the new president of the 125,000-member organization.
FAA creates a new "recreational pilot certificate" as a lower cost alternative to private pilot certification. EAA had petitioned for the category in 1984.
Eagle Hangar, a 44,000-sq. ft. addition to the EAA Air Adventure Museum, is dedicated as a tribute to the people and aircraft that participated in World War II. EAA Aviation Foundation received a $200,000 grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee to support the addition.
FAA approves changes in two-seat ultralight training exemptions proposed by EAA and the United States Ultralight Association. The new rules more accurately affected the larger ultralights being used for training and recreational flight.
March 1992 FAA, in a recommendation from EAA, adopts European Joint Aviation Requirements-Very Light Airplanes as equal to American Federal Aviation Regulations in determining compliance of light aircraft.
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., EAA unveils its new Young Eagles program that offers flight experiences for young people ages 8-17 at no charge. Flights will begin at the 1992 EAA fly-in convention, with Academy-award winning actor Cliff Robertson serving as the program’s first chairman. Robertson also stars in a short EAA-produced film titled “Young Eagle,” which premieres in December 1993 and is aimed at drawing young people to aviation.
July 1992 The first Young Eagles flights take place at the EAA fly-in convention in Oshkosh, with a goal of providing one million young people with an airplane ride by the year 2003 and sparking a new generation's interest in aviation.
Following a decade-long debate, EAA's proposal for a new Primary Aircraft Category is established by FAA.
February 1993 FAA awards the EAA Aviation Foundation a $25,000 grant for further research into alternative aviation fuels. EAA and the Florida Institute of Technology begin a research program to study the impact of oxygenated auto fuel on aircraft systems.
The Foundation’s B-17 “Flying Fortress” leaves on its first-ever national tour, stopping at more than 40 cities during the year.
EAA announces a new Flight Advisors program at the 1994 Fly-In Convention. The program will allow experienced homebuilders and restorers to provide advice and counsel to those unfamiliar with building or restoring airplanes.
EAA helps celebrated aerobatic pilot Bob Hoover regain his medical certificate after it was revoked for medical reasons. The incident began a three-year fight against the FAA’s emergency revocation power and resulted in the introduction of the “Hoover Bill” to Congress.
November 1995 EAA’s Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) Pilot Advocate Program begins advising pilots who may be having difficulties obtaining their medical certificates. More than 100 AMEs throughout the country volunteer to assist EAA member pilots.
April 1997 EAA successfully lobbies the FAA to decrease restrictions of the Recreational Pilots License, allowing pilots to learn to fly quicker and more economically.
EAA receives more than 250 national media inquiries in a three-day period following the tragic death of entertainer John Denver in a homebuilt aircraft accident. EAA’s response to the tragedy helps people more fully understand amateur-built aircraft and avoid an outcry for new and unreasonable restrictions.
May 1998 The EAA Air Academy Lodge is completed, which serves 1,000 young people each year during EAA’s educational sessions.
1999 EAA establishes its Homebuilt Aircraft Council to serve the expanding needs of the homebuilt aircraft community.
May 2000 FAA grants exemption to members of EAA, the National Association of Flight Instructors, and the Small Aircraft Manufacturers Association that allow them to rent their amateur-built experimental aircraft to other pilots to obtain transition flight training in homebuilts.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, EAA helps defend general aviation, using its contacts in federal government to reopen the national airspace as quickly as possible and preventing unreasonable restrictions on private flying.
October 2001 Tom Poberezny, EAA president, testifies before the House Aviation Subcommittee about recommendations for the return of general aviation to the skies after September 11, 2001.
September 2002 EAA and other aviation organizations jointly oppose federal legislation that would ban general aviation flights within three miles of large public events and open-air assemblies, claiming the proposal is based on economics instead of security reasons.
EAA petitions FAA to allow Recreational Pilots to use a state driver’s license as medical certification, as part of a joint research project to track medical issues for GA pilots.
November 2002 A new EAA-designed program that addresses the shortage of Airworthiness Inspectors for homebuilt aircraft is approved by FAA. The program will include EAA-designed curricula used in FAA training courses.
October 2003 Some 35,000 volunteer pilots help EAA reach its ambitious initial goal for the Young Eagles program, when 15-year-old Andrew Grant of German Valley, Illinois, becomes the 1,000,000th Young Eagle. EAA also announces that the Young Eagles program will continue as a permanent part of EAA’s activities.
December 2003 EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk program comes to a successful conclusion when an exact reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer is present at the Wright Brothers National Monument on December 17, 2003 – 100 years to the day of the Wrights’ first flight at the Kitty Hawk, N.C. The airplane successfully flew at Kitty Hawk in November and December, and some 35,000 aviation enthusiasts braved foul weather to be present at the anniversary.
March 2004 Most daily operations of the EAA Aviation Foundation are brought under the administration of EAA. The Foundation remains as an endowment and asset-holding corporation.
Actor Harrison Ford, a dedicated EAA member and Young Eagles volunteer, accepts the chairmanship of the Young Eagles program, succeeding Gen. Chuck Yeager.
September 2004 The new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft rule becomes effective and EAA educates the aviation community and the public about the possibilities available under the rule. The organization also works to bolster the infrastructure to make the rule successful, including industry, instructors, insurance and much more. This is the culmination of EAA’s 10-year effort to create new pilot and aircraft certifications devoted exclusively to recreational aviation.
April 2006 EAA’s efforts to simplify medical certification for pilots reaches a major breakthrough, as EAA proposals gained acceptance by FAA. EAA’s proposals, which grew out of EAA member input at AirVenture 2005, led to major changes in aeromedical certification within the next year.
March 2009 Paul Poberezny retires as chairman of the board after serving in that role since 1989. Tom Poberezny is appointed the new chairman of the board and announces a search for his successor as EAA president and CEO.
June 2009 The new Founders Wing at the AirVenture Museum is dedicated, allowing for greater flexibility of events, banquets, and other functions. A part of the wing includes a re-creation of EAA’s first office in the basement of Paul and Audrey Poberezny’s home in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.
July 2009 Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, who successfully completed an emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, are announced as the new co-chairmen of the EAA Young Eagles, succeeding Harrison Ford.
May 2010 More than 40,000 people participated in nearly 450 events as part of the inaugural International Learn to Fly Day. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring May 15, 2010, as International Learn to Fly Day.
July 2010 Rod Hightower, a longtime EAA member and pilot, is named EAA new President/CEO. Tom Poberezny will retain an active role as EAA chairman and AirVenture chairman.
January 2011 EAA is one of five general aviation associations named to FAA’s GA Joint Steering Committee to help form strategy and policy for general aviation nationally.
July 2011 EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny announces his retirement from the organization during AirVenture 2011. He is named to the new position of Chairman Emeritus.
January 2012 EAA president/CEO Rod Hightower testifies before a National Transportation Safety Hearing hearing in Washington, D.C, in regards to air show and air racing safety.
March 2012 EAA and AOPA formally request an exemption to FAA third-class medical certification by aviators who would participate in a recurrent online education program on aeromedical factors.
May 2012 The National Transportation Safety Board asks EAA to work in four specific areas to improve amateur-built aircraft safety as part of the board’s 16 overall recommendations.
July 2012 The new Eagle Flights program makes it first flight during AirVenture 2012, launching EAA’s new program to get adults involved in aviation. The program features flight experiences and mentoring through EAA members and chapters.
October 2012 Rod Hightower resigns as EAA President/CEO. Jack Pelton is elected as EAA Chairman of the Board.
May 2013 The FAA surprises EAA with a demand for more than $400,000 in payment for air traffic control services at AirVenture. After more than 25,000 EAA members express outrage, dozens of House and Senate members write FAA to demand reconsideration. EAA signs agreement under protest in June that allows AirVenture to continue, but files federal court petition in July asking for decision against unjustified fees.
July 2013 World-renowned air show legend Sean D. Tucker is announced as the new chairman of the EAA Young Eagles, succeeding Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles.