Paul Poberezny, the energetic, charismatic, and personable founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association, died Aug. 22 at the age of 91.
“We were saddened today to learn of Paul Poberezny’s passing, and so incredibly grateful for all that he has left us,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “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.”
Poberezny was a military pilot for 30 years and served during World War II and Korea before retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1970.
He was born in Kansas in 1921 and taught himself to fly at age 16 in a single-seat Waco glider he helped restore. He founded EAA in the basement of his Milwaukee-area home in 1953 with his wife Audrey, and they built it into a vibrant organization that now boasts 170,000 members in more than 100 countries, and its annual gathering, EAA AirVenture, is one of aviation’s premiere events.
Poberezny designed and built a long series of original aircraft including the Pober Pixie and Acro Sport I and II, and he helped build a Pitts Special biplane that his son Tom flew to victory in national and international competitions in the early 1970s. Tom later served as EAA president from 1989 until 2010.
Poberezny attended EAA AirVenture every year and was a familiar sight waving from the chop-topped Volkswagen beetle in which he drove throughout the sprawling airport grounds. He flew hundreds of aircraft types and logged more than 30,000 flight hours in more than 70 years of flying, but he always said that it was people—not aircraft—that inspired him.
“I’ve learned more about people through my association with aviation than I ever did about airplanes,” he said.