The EAA, along with Tom Poberezny, took the opportunity at EAA’s 2011 AirVenture to announce that he is retiring as the Chairman of both the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and EAA AirVenture. Tom was the chairman of the association since 1989, replacing his father upon his retirement. He has also been the chairman of EAA’s AirVenture annual convention for over 30 years. The organization itself was formed 58 years ago and AirVenture has become the world’s largest celebration of aviation, drawing visitors from across the globe. Over 500,000 visitors attend the annual event including over 10,000 airplanes that fly-in for the week.
Upon his retirement, which will be effective August 1st, Tom will be granted the position of chairman emeritus of AirVenture. Louie Andrew, vice president of the EAA Board and chairman of its Executive Committee, stated that ‘Tom, like his father, has been a visible leader for EAA and a mentor to thousands of flight enthusiasts, especially the countless young people that he has helped understand and become involved in the wonder of flight and the importance of aviation to our society. We will miss his daily involvement and valuable input, but we are happy to know that he will continue to be a good friend and an informal adviser as we move into an exciting future.’
Andrews further noted that the Board unanimously passed a resolution ‘praising Poberezny for his leadership to the group and success in helping make the nonprofit organization the world’s leading aviation association,’ and also, ‘thanked Poberezny for his many contributions in making AirVenture Oshkosh the world’s premier aviation event that draws pilots, airplanes, members and guests from around the globe every year.’
EAA’s Young Eagles program was founded under Tom’s tenure as chairman. What initially started in 1992 with a goal of providing a first flight to 1,000,000 kids, well surpassed that, with over 1.6 million Young Eagle’s having taken part in the program as of earlier this year. EAA and AOPA surveys show that approximately 7.3% of all pilot’s under the age of 35 took a Young Eagle flight. When discussing the Young Eagles program, Tom stated ‘The building blocks for the continued success and growth for EAA have been laid, and I look forward to helping in new and different ways in the years ahead.’
Tom Poberezny voiced that he will continue to be ‘the best ambassador’ for EAA and its many programs and went on to say ‘I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish during my tenure. From increased attendance at our convention to the expansion of our facilities and programs, I am pleased to have led the effort to set the stage for future growth.’
As for why he felt it was time to retire, he mentioned that while he is still healthy and fit, and enjoyed the work, he felt that ‘fresh thinking and new ideas are the fuel to propel us forward. EAA is well-positioned to step into the future with confidence, strong leadership and a promising outlook.’
Upon Tom’s retirement, current EAA President and CEO, Rod Hightower, will take over as Chairman, assuming the Tom’s responsibilities. Louie Andrew stated that Rod has been working with Tom over the last year and should be well prepped and ready to take over and fill the huge responsibility left by Tom. Rod stated that ‘Tom has left big shoes to fill, and I’ll work hard to do my best for our members, our business partners, the aviation community and the entire Fox Valley area, especially Oshkosh.’