Paul H. Poberezny
Paul H. Poberezny
Paul H. Poberezny was one of the most decorated men in the international aviation community, having received literally hundreds of trophies, awards and honors for his countless contributions to the world of flight. As a youngster, Paul built model airplanes from scratch. By the time he was 16 he had restored a battered Waco glider and taught himself how to fly. He loved airplanes and flight his entire life. In all, Paul logged more than 30,000 hours of flight time over more than 70 years of flying. He piloted nearly 500 different types of aircraft, including more than 170 amateur-built airplanes. He also designed and built more than 15 different airplanes.
Poberezny is best known, however, as founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), which has often been described as the world's most dynamic aviation organization. Each year EAA's international Fly-In Convention, named "EAA AirVenture," draws more than 500,000 people and 10,000 airplanes to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for one of the world's premier aviation events. For 34 years Poberezny also served as publisher/editor of EAA publications, including five monthly magazines and numerous technical manuals and research papers.
Poberezny organized the first Fly-In in 1953, the same year he founded EAA with a handful of other aviation enthusiasts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From the basement of his Hales Corners, Wisconsin, home, Paul and his wife Audrey nurtured the small group and watched it grow each year. He toured the U.S. and other nations on behalf of EAA, spreading a grassroots aviation message far and wide. He made frequent trips to Washington, D.C., to speak to Congressional leaders and federal aviation authorities, where he defended the rights of amateur aircraft builders and sport aviation enthusiasts while earning his livelihood as a military pilot and aircraft maintenance officer.
Poberezny was considered one of aviation's leading spokespersons here in the United States and around the world, representing the interests of more than 170,000 active EAA members at local, national and international events. The career of Paul Poberezny includes nearly 30 years of distinguished military service as a pilot, test pilot and a veteran of both World War II and the Korean conflict. Prior to retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he became the only man in the armed forces to attain all seven aviation wings the military had to offer. And he was able to accomplish this feat without ever having the benefit of military aviation training, a truly remarkable achievement in itself.
Poberezny was a 1999 inductee to the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, America's place of honor for its most legendary aviators, and in 2002 he received the prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. Admired for his leadership and ability, Poberezny served on the board of directors of many local, regional, national and international organizations. He was, without question, one of the foremost visionaries and innovators in the world of aviation today. Poberezny died August 22, 2013, at the age of 91.
The Wisconsin Historical Society celebrated the lifetime achievements of Paul Poberezny, along with four other individuals with Wisconsin ties, during the History Makers Gala in Milwaukee on May 14, 2008. Poberezny received the Seymour Cray Award for Distinction in Technology.