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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.

  

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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh


Volume 9, Number 3 July 29, 2008     

Poberezny shares more than warbirds with EAA crowd
By Frederick A. Johnsen

EAA founder Paul Poberezny autographed the sleeve of Jessica Miller’s shirt after his Warbirds in Review presentation Monday. Miller flew to AirVenture 2008 from Minnesota in an Aeronca Champ.

EAA Founder and Chairman Paul Poberezny came to give a Warbirds in Review presentation about the P-51 Mustang Monday, but the event quickly became a warm audience testimonial to the personality and perseverance of Poberezny.

He told the crowd gathered in the Warbirds area that the P-51 "is like a sports car." He said he was hard pressed to distinguish the P-51’s handling characteristics from other aircraft because "I’ve flown over 400 different types of airplanes" in more than 30,000 flying hours. He recalled the P-51’s dead-stick sink rate is steep. Poberezny has flown many Mustang variants: XP-51, P-51A, P-51B, P-51C, P-51D, and P-51H. When asked how to do a go-around in a P-51, he went over his mental checklist: "First, get your gear up. Then milk the flaps up."

During the Korean War, when F-51 Mustangs were sent into combat as ground attack aircraft, Poberezny was a serviceman who went to war surplus stores to buy throat microphones and Mae West life preservers to equip the aging fighters for one more war.

While acknowledging merits of other fighters including the P-47, Poberezny touted the P-51’s speed, maneuverability, and range. "I would say the Mustang was top of the line for that kind of operation."

He made his remarks in front of EAA’s P-51D Paul I, no longer flown by Poberezny. "It’s sleeping forever," he said, referring to his decision to stop flying the high-performance fighter to ensure its–and his–longevity. Poberezny and Paul I gave nearly 500 passengers back-seat Mustang rides. He said his passengers included broadcaster Paul Harvey and singer John Denver, as well as government officials.

Paul Poberezny said his relationship with government officials has not been demanding or pushy. When sport aviation issues needed the ear of government, he found a collaborative approach led to positive results. Members of the audience offered up their own personal anecdotes about Poberezny’s powers of persuasion that got them to volunteer for EAA projects.

Poberezny sprinkled his commentary with occasional humble humor, always garnering applause and appreciative laughter from the crowd. He recalled his early flying years before World War II in an inexpensive old American Eagle biplane: "I met a lot of farmers." Off-field emergency landings contributed to young Poberezny’s piloting skills. The biplane followed Poberezny’s learning in a Waco glider furnished by a teacher who wanted to see Paul flourish at something. "I didn’t do well in grade school; I was always drawing airplanes. I didn’t do well in high school–same reason." That teacher’s interest in Poberezny’s well-being is what "started my career in aviation and my love for people," he told the AirVenture crowd.

In the course of his comments, Poberezny mentioned he is 86 years old and has been married to his wife, Audrey, for 64 years. "If it wasn’t for my wife, Audrey, I wouldn’t be standing here," he said. Poberezny recounted how he and Audrey used their cast-off kitchen table, a second-hand typewriter, and a converted basement coal bin as an office to start the business of the fledgling Experimental Aircraft Association in 1953. His audience appreciated his recounting of the beginnings of EAA, alternately applauding and laughing as Poberezny casually chatted with them.

When asked his view of EAA’s future, Paul Poberezny said the organization is in good hands. "I don’t want it to ever change from being a family," he said. He referred to EAA as "your organization." Acknowledging that some people resist changes to anything, Poberezny said "Don’t blame me; you people have changed it with your love, your ideas…"

Following a standing ovation for Paul Poberezny, the audience gathered around the EAA founder for handshakes, autographs, and snapshots.

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