Longtime head of EAA Tom Poberezny has died this morning, Monday, July 25, following a short illness, according to a family friend who shared the news with Plane & Pilot. Poberezny was 75 years old.
The son of EAA founder Paul Poberezny and Audrey Poberezny, Tom became Oshkosh Fly-in Chairman in 1977, and took the reins of EAA in the early 90s and served as president and chairman for two decades, leading the organization to a world-class profile and taking it from a gathering of homebuilt and small plane enthusiasts to an organization that embraced every aspect of flight. He was also central to the birth of the Young Eagles, a program that gave first flight experiences to millions of young people free of charge.
He retired as president and chairman of EAA in 2010 following a rancorous disagreement among board members and rank and file EAA members about the future of EAA.
One of the most talented aviators of his day, Tom was world aerobatics champion as part of team USA in 1972 and was United States Unlimited aerobatics champion the next year. He went on to become part of the three-plane Red Devils aerobatic airshow act, later known as The Eagles, along with Gene Soucy and the late Charlie Hilliard.
EAA spokesperson Dick Knapinski noted the timing of Poberezny’s death, which happened at two am the morning of the opening of the 2022 edition of the event he loved so well. Knapinski said that EAA planned to honor Tom Poberezny’s memory in a number of ways at this year’s show.