On October 1, 2016, longtime EAA head and former aerobatics champion Tom Poberezny was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.
The story of the birth and growth of the EAA is one that’s worthy of its own prime-time television drama, which one might call “The Flying Pobereznys.” The latest development took place a few days ago when Tom Poberezny, the son of the late founder of the EAA, Paul Poberezny, was elected to the National Aviation Hall of Fame. The elder Poberezny was enshrined in the NAHF in 1999.
Tom Poberezny officially joined his father’s organization in the late 1960s, and for decades not only worked at EAA, but was one of a trio of performers in the longest-running precision aerobatics team ever, the Red Devils, later named the Eagles, along with Gene Soucy and the late Charlie Hillard. In the 1990s, Poberezny assumed the leadership at EAA and worked tirelessly to turn the organization into a modern one that went far beyond being a club for aircraft homebuilders. Tom was central to the creation of the EAA Museum and the Young Eagles program, which has given more than 2 million people a ride in a light aircraft. He also took the EAA’s advocacy to new heights, spearheading the EAA’s efforts to make flying more affordable, less restrictive and safer for all pilots. Among those efforts were an STC the EAA developed to allow many small planes to use autogas, which is far cheaper than aviation gas, the backing of a new FAA aircraft category, Light Sport, and a new pilot certification, Sport Pilot, and the early backing of a rule allowing simplified pilot medical approval. Poberezny left the EAA in 2010.
Also inducted into the NAHF on October 1st were Robert Crippen, the first Space Shuttle pilot, the late fighter pilot and National Medal of Honor recipient George “Bud” Day and Chris Kraft, NASA’s first Flight Director.