August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
They have founded EAA chapters that are
thriving, passed on their knowledge about aviation and homebuilding, made
the EAA website easier to navigate, and created an aviation museum that is
open to the public.
For their contributions, they will receive the
EAA Major Achievement Award during the Chapter Leaders Breakfast in the
EAA AirVenture Museum’s Founders’ Wing today.
The award, established to recognize
outstanding chapter members, honors those who have demonstrated their
passion and dedication for their chapter, EAA, and the international
The 2009 winners include:
Frank Herdzina, EAA Chapter 1414
If you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem like work.
That’s what Herdzina, of Poplar Grove,
Illinois, believes. And that explains his contributions to EAA and Chapter
Herdzina is the founding father of the
chapter, as well as past treasurer and current secretary. He donates the
use of his hangar for chapter meetings, events, and projects, and he is a
regular AirVenture volunteer at KidVenture, for the Ambassador program,
and in the workshop area. Why does he give of so much of his time?
“I really enjoy what I’m doing,” he
Herdzina also leads the restoration shop at
the Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum and has provided an ongoing commitment
to the local museum’s Youth Exploring Aviation program that includes
weekly outreach programs.
In fact, working with youth is one of his
“I like to get youth interested in aviation,”
he said. “Right now we’re working on a project for the museum where we
are taking kids and showing them how to rebuild an airplane from scratch.”
A statement in his nomination paper summarizes
Herdzina’s impact. “He is a builder, a mentor, and a leader. Giving
freely of his time and knowledge, Frank daily demonstrates the qualities
that have guided EAA into its leadership role in the aviation community.”
Aldine Patton, EAA Chapter 172
Patton was a boy, one of his father’s friends died in an airplane
Patton recalled: “That night, as we were
eating supper, Dad said, ‘There won’t be any aviators in this house.’
He didn’t look at me, but I knew he was talking to me.”
But the boy had the aviation bug, so he would
sneak to the airport, learning to fly by cleaning hangars, fueling
airplanes, and so on.
Thank goodness he didn’t listen to his
Patton has had an impressive aviation career
that includes flying dive bombers for the Navy in World War II, providing
flight instruction for the U.S. Air Force, and working for the FAA as an
aeronautical engineer and air traffic controller.
In the late 1950s, he designed and built his
first airplane, the APF1, which was featured in the August 1962 issue of EAA
Sport Aviation. He followed it up with the APF2. APF stands for “Al
Then, in 1963, he founded Chapter 172 in
Augusta, Georgia. Throughout the years, Patton has served as chapter
president, secretary, and treasurer. At 86, he is still an active member,
serving as a technical counselor, flight advisor, and newsletter
In the nomination form, the chapter wrote, “His
knowledge and consistent willingness to pass along his expertise in the
design and construction of custom-built aircraft has endeared him to all
who know him.”
Jim Smith, EAA Chapter 1246
of McKinney, Texas, took two things he knows well—websites and airplanes—
and merged them to help create an improved
EAA website. EAA members will recognize his
list of online solutions, including:
- EAA Calendar of Events— the second
most visited area on the EAA website
- Chapter Speakers Bureau
- Chapter Online Event Insurance
- EAA Insurance Quote Kiosk
Smith’s most recent project was working with
EAA staff to completely upgrade the AirVenture Events software, allowing
attendees to create their own itinerary for the week of the fly-in
He also created the website FunPlacesToFly.com,
which shares information on fun-to-visit aviation destinations. How did it
“Many, many years ago, after I got my pilot’s
license and when I first started doing programming, I wanted to create a
website that encouraged people to include fun places to fly that I didn’t
know about,” he said. Today the site boasts more than 3,000 places in 50
states; the site also includes an aviation blog, aviation news, and more.
“I’ve been doing web development since
1994, and I really wanted to help and get involved in something I enjoy.
There is nothing like doing something you know how to do and love at the
Edward Waldorf, EAA Chapter 1241
of Marathon, Florida, wanted to share aviation history with others. So he
constructed a free public museum in the Florida Keys that also serves as
the chapter’s hangar.
The museum started in 2001 and was located in
the Marathon airport’s main terminal. But a flood in 2005 ruined many of
the artifacts, and the county told the museum to find a new location.
It recently relocated to its current location,
and the museum is painted like a Quonset hut from World War II. Many of
the artifacts inside were donated, and the museum focuses on what aviation
has meant to the Florida Keys.
Waldorf, one of the Chapter 1241 founders, has
served as both chapter president and vice president, and he said the group
now has about 125 members who are active, not only in the museum, but also
with the Young Eagles program.
In addition, Waldorf helped to develop a
scholarship program that high school students can use to offset the cost
of getting their pilot certificate.
“I believe every chapter should have a
scholarship program, even if it is just one a year. With 1,300 chapters
that means we would add 1,300 more pilots into the mix every year, and if
we do that for 20 years, it would help a lot to build general aviation.”
Darin Hart will accept the award on Waldorf’s