gathered to celebrate Glorious Johnson Day when the Aluminum
Overcast came to town. From left are Earl Lawrence,
Councilor Glorious Johnson, and Milford Shirley, EAA Chapter 193
little words, but they had a big impact.
Kraut was at an EAA Chapter 193 meeting when he quietly said,
"There’s something I think you need to know about."
the group about a city ordinance enacted in Jacksonville, Florida, in
June 2006 that made it illegal to work on an aircraft or store an
aircraft in residential areas.
"There was stunned
silence for a while,"
recalled Milford Shirley, EAA Chapter 193 president. "We said a law
can’t say that, but Brian had copies to show us it could."
story tumbled out. For nearly 18 months, a neighbor had been calling the
Jacksonville zoning department to complain and stop him from building an
airplane in his garage. Finally, the neighbor got the attention of a
city councilor who drafted and created an ordinance that banned people
from working on their homebuilt projects at home.
said the chapter immediately decided that this was something it needed
to be involved with. The first thing members did was canvas Kraut’s
neighborhood. Every person who answered the door was in favor of
allowing Kraut to build his plane, Shirley said. "One woman even
said, ‘We like it when he’s working on his airplane. We know where
our son will be.’"
they attended a city council meeting.
had decided we wouldn’t be accusatory or combative," he said.
"We just told them about the law … and explained what it meant.
There was a three-minute time limit, so each member would say a
different thing about the law and how silly and onerous it was."
the end of the night, the council agreed and said a new law would be
drafted, and it invited the chapter members to be involved. "We
thought we had won," Shirley said. "But months later, we were
In fact, it took 15
months for the law to be overturned, and Shirley was at the center of
the grassroots movement. For his efforts, Shirley will be presented the
President’s Award Tuesday at Theater in the Woods. The award
acknowledges members whose participation and contributions represent the
"essence" of EAA.
is an example of the grassroots leadership within the
organization," EAA President Tom Poberezny said. "It shows the
involvement of EAA on local issues and the ability to respond to issues
that impact aviation."
said, while he appreciates the award, it took many people to overturn
members created information packets and handed them out to the council
members. They started making phone calls. They walked picket lines. They
attended countless zoning and council meetings. EAA member Joe Weaner,
owner of Beach Banner, towed banners free in support of the group. And
to every zoning and council meeting they went, they wore red shirts
displaying the EAA logo and calling for the repeal of the law.
EAA Chapter 1379 also jumped in the fight. "They realized the same
that we did, that this law couldn’t stand," said Shirley.
"It was an abuse of power, and we didn’t want it to spread."
said since the fight to have the law repealed took so long, he was
worried they would lose momentum. "But people felt strongly about
it, and if I e-mailed them there was a meeting, 12-18 people would show
up at every meeting, all wearing their red shirts. They really were
warriors. Getting rid of this law was an example of EAAers in
finally, Councilor Glorious Johnson sponsored a bill to repeal the law.
On September 27, 2007, the council voted 15-0 in favor of City Bill 955,
which repealed the so-called Everett Ordinance prohibiting parking,
storing, repairing, and operating flying craft and airboats in
later EAA members gathered at Cecil Field Airport to recognize the
repeal of the city ordinance and to honor Johnson.
attributed their success to EAA members’ passion. "We had a large
group of people who were passionate about their hobby and the law not
being there," he said. "They believed it singled us out, and
they stood tall and hung together."
Or it could be that they
just wore them out, he said, laughing. "They knew if they didn’t
step forward to repeal the law, we still would be there every Tuesday