As AirVenture Opens, Longtime EAA President Tom Poberezny Dies At 75 (Updated)


In an ironic twist of timing, longtime EAA President Tom Poberezny died early Monday morning just as the 69th AirVenture was hours from officially opening. EAA said Poberezny died after a brief illness at 75, severing the last direct link to the family that founded the Experimental Aircraft Association in 1953.

Tom Poberezny took over the reins of EAA in 1989 and lead it through a sometimes turbulent period. His father, Paul, built EAA into one of the largest and most influential aviation associations in the world. The elder Poberezny died in 2013.

Tom Poberezny was both an accomplished executive and pilot, having been on the team that won the U.S. National Unlimited World Aerobatic Championship in 1972. He continued to fly aerobatics with the Eagles Aerobatic Team, a crowd favorite at Oshkosh during the years the team performed.

Poberezny was credited with sweeping changes at EAA and built the annual fly-in and show from a nationally known event into the centerpiece of the international air and trade show season. He led the first major capital campaign for the EAA grounds that includes the EAA Aviation Center and museum complex at Wittman Regional Airport, among a long list of improvements.    

“It is not lost on us that Tom’s passing occurred on the opening day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the event he led into world prominence as its chairman beginning in the 1970s,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “He will be greatly missed but more importantly, he will be remembered for all that he did for EAA and aviation. Our sincere thoughts and prayers go to Tom’s wife, Sharon, and his daughter, Lesley, and the rest of the Poberezny family,” Pelton added.

Poberezny retired as EAA president in 2011, but remained involved with the organization in the role of chairman emeritus. He could be seen occasionally driving one of the association’s convertible Volkswagens around the AirVenture grounds.

As Poberezny’s passing was noted, tributes to his contribution to general aviation poured in. “Tom was a world-class aviator, leader and human being,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “General aviation was his life, and he was a passionate advocate on behalf of our entire industry and for making our aviation community better, stronger and more accessible.” Said GAMA’s Pete Bunce, “Tom Poberezny was a lifelong ambassador for the general aviation community. The vison he shared with his father is the reason why tens of thousands of aviation enthusiasts gather at AirVenture to celebrate all things aviation. He had a devout passion for the next generation of aviators and his passing, on the opening day of AirVenture 2022, reminds us all why we come together annually with common purpose to share our love for all things aerospace.”


  1. Very sad news, his efforts have made a huge impact on the development of G.A. in almost every sector you can think of. I hope there is a worthy successor in-waiting.
    Grateful to Tom for his amazing work and for carrying on his dad’s legacy.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this, and my heartfelt condolences to Paul’s family, and all those whose lives he touched.

    In memory of Paul let us take the time and opportunity of one kind act, that would exemplify camaraderie and the love of flight. Whether it be donating a new aviation book to a library, contributing to an aviation scholarship, mentoring a student pilot, or taking someone for their first time flight. The possibilities are up to you, but let us show that we ourselves can pay it forward, and no way is too small. Let’s post it, too! My pledge is that I will speak to a local community youth group, here in the NY metro area, on the importance of general aviation in our area, and the various possibilities of careers in addition to being a pilot. I will also tell them about how to find scholarships to get started. Anyone else?

  3. Rest in Peace good Sir. I met him at the 1995 Oshkosh gathering when I flew the Norfolk Naval Air Station Flying Club T34-B in for the event. He directed us to the Warbird parking area and when we went to get our event passes, he gave them to us with his complements. Wonderful gentleman and a true giant of general and experimental aviation.