Chief Weighs In On AirVenture Changes... And Polkas
by ANN Correspondent Rose Dorcey
Just outside a Harley Davidson tent on the AirVenture grounds is
Red One, Paul Poberezny's Volkswagen beetle. Inside, Poberezny sits
at a table, signing his book, Poberezny, The Story
Begins… The Early Years of Paul "Howard" Poberezny and
Audrey Louise Ruesch …a partnership that changed
aviation history forever, as told to Chuck Parnall and Bonnie
Poberezny. He greets visitors with friendly smiles, handshakes,
hugs, and even occasional kisses.
Poberezny seems to enjoy the people who come to thank him for
what he started 53 years ago. He spends time with each of them,
listening to their stories, and sharing a few of his own. He isn't
hurried. He appears fresh in his crisp white shirt, even in the
humid, 90-degree heat.
Between the dozens of people who came to have their books, hats
and t-shirts signed, I had a chance to ask Paul a few questions
about the changes he has seen in his decades of EAA experiences. He
was happy to share his insight.
ANN: Paul, you're sitting here in the Harley Davidson booth,
across from the Best Buy exhibit, where they're playing rock music.
Is that music your choice?
Paul: No, it certainly isn't - if it were polkas, it would be
all right. It's loud, but I guess that's modern day activities.
ANN: The music seems to be indicative of the changes that EAA
conventions have seen. What do you think of all the changes?
Paul: As long as the organization, the leadership, including all
the directors, do not lose the basic purpose of why the
organization was founded. It is a wonderful time for families, a
variety of activities being supported by non-aviation people, like
Ford Motor Company and all the others, all the entertainment, the
different aspects that are hard to describe unless you're here,
certainly it's a far cry from the early days. It brings together
people from all over the world as a big family.
ANN: I've heard your son Tom speak twice this week about
AirVenture, about how this event is about airplanes, but more
important, it's about the relationships made and the people who
Paul: I'm glad to hear that - I hope he follows what his mom and
I dreamed of and worked so hard for, for the world of aviation and
ANN: How are you and Audrey doing, and are you ready for another
year of AirVenture?
Paul: Sometimes she [Audrey] gets 'aviationed-out' having lived
it since she was 14-years-old; that's when I met her in high
school. And of course, our daughter, Bonnie was very instrumental
in the early years of EAA. When she was two or three years old,
licking stamps and stuffing mail. She's doing very well.
ANN: It must be gratifying to hear the thanks from all these
people for what you started so many years ago.
Paul: It's wonderful that they do and appreciate the
organization and what it has become and how it's touched their
lives. I kind of liken it to watching Tommy and Bonnie grow up.
When they left home, you wondered, "Where did the time go?" It's
the same here, being involved with this since I started it 53 years
ago. It's like seeing your family grow up. Some of the people who
look old to me are walking around here; they've been members for a
long time. Some are 40-45 years old; some weren't even born when
EAA started. It's a lot of family.
Paul and author Chuck Parnall said that the book is almost sold
out. For those who want a signed copy, hurry to the Harley Davidson
booth at the northeast corner of Knapp Street Road and Waukau