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Thu, Apr 01, 2010

EAA to Choose Poberezny Successor at AirVenture 2010

Recreating Ancient Selection Process Required Improvisation

ANN April 1st Special Edition: In most years, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is distinguished primarily by advances in aviation technology. But this year, the most conspicuous attraction on AeroShell Square is expected to be something straight out of the Thirteenth Century.

As ANN has reported, EAA's quest to find a qualified candidate to succeed Tom Poberezny as President of the organization has not gone so well. Near the end of last year's AirVenture, instead of covering the announcement of that successor, we were learning of the unravelling of the process. In the months since, former members of the EAA Board of Directors followed their resignations with tales of political turmoil.

Now, ANN has learned that a proven, impartial and, frankly, legendary selection process will be employed, culminating in a new choice for President happening live on AeroShell Square this summer.

EAA Media and Public Affairs Director Dick Knapinski explained the spectacle. "When an organization is stumped for a solution to a problem such as this, it only makes sense to look for historical precedent. Given how long man has inhabited the earth, there has to be someone who's run up against these issues and solved them before. We just had to find that example.

"In our case, the set of challenges had a familiar ring," continues Knapinski. "A kingdom in turmoil, no worthy male heir to the throne, and a commotion among dozens jousting for the right to succeed Tom. Suddenly, the light bulb went on."

EAA Chairman and President and AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberzny adds, "I was recently going through an old sport coat, and found a ticket stub for a 1977 off-Broadway production of Camelot, starring Richard Harris. In reflecting on how great that show was, and how I'm a much better singer than Harris, it suddenly struck me - we have all the same issues, and access to similar ingredients needed to replicate the sacred process through which Arthur won the throne."

 What followed was a stunning example of the ingenuity for which EAA and the homebuilding movement are famous. Recognizing that the worlds largest gathering of qualified aviation management candidates would be present at Oshkosh in July, work quickly commenced to create a modern-day equivalent to a sword in a stone. A WWII-vintage Merlin engine block was chosen as the most appropriate stand-in for the stone.

But the EAA Secret Sword Committee came up short when supplications to the Lady of Lake Winnebago, to provide the ceremonial weapon, were rebuffed due to noise complaints related to last year's seaplane base. Some other source of a magic sword had to be found. Eventually, a recess was machined in the Merlin casting to exactly match the shape of a single propeller blade from an Excalibur ultralight, which was put in place using heat-cured aerospace adhesives with a predicted shear strength of over one million pounds.

There will be a few complications in precisely creating the setting of the original Sword in the Stone. For one, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act will require construction of a wheelchair ramp in AeroShell Square next to the engine block, and instructions for removal of the blade on an attached plaque in Spanish, English and Braille. Asked if it would be dangerous to entrust so much power to someone with limited vision, Knapinski commented, "not in our experience, no."

EAA AirVenture 2010 runs from July 26 - August 1, and will draw hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts (and potential presidents) to Wittman Regional Airport. There is no way to know exactly when during the week one of the attendees might pull Excalibur from the Merlin block. For that matter, it's hard to imagine anyone exceeding a million pounds of force manually. Poberezny remains upbeat.

"Look, when Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone, he was a spindly lad of little strength, and performed the task with ease after much stronger men had tried and failed. It's obviously not about upper body strength, it's about being acknowledged by Heaven as the the only person on earth who's right for the job. I have no doubt that if the next rightful President of EAA is Jessica Cox, she'll be able to remove that prop blade with either foot.

"And, if nobody can do it, and it turns out that I'm supposed to serve in this role for life, well...I'm prepared to make that sacrifice."

FMI: www.eaa.org/annointedsuccessionplan


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