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Wed, Apr 22, 2009

Wichita Aero Club Fundraising Dinner Will Feature EAA's Tom Poberezny

EAA CEO Will Speak at June 6 Dinner at Wichita's Hyatt Regency

The Wichita Aero Club, in cooperation with the United Way of the Plains, will raise funds for displaced workers by hosting an evening gala and silent auction at 7 PM on June 6, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The "No Black Tie" Black Tie Ball will feature Tom Poberezny, Chief Executive Officer of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the unveiling of the Wichita Aero Club trophy which will be presented to a person or organization with ties to the local community who has contributed significantly to the advancement of aviation during the previous calendar year or over an extended period.


 
The 2009 event is designed to benefit the more than 10,000 aviation workers in the Wichita area who have been laid off or displaced in recent months. "Since the annual Wichita Aero Club trophy will not be presented this year, our board of directors felt that it was imperative that a prominent and appropriate speaker be invited to the event in order to attract significant participation from the local community. We are extremely happy that Tom Poberezny, whose long association with the airframe manufacturers, suppliers, and EAA members who annually attend the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin each summer has agreed to be our keynote speaker. He's an ideal choice and we greatly appreciate his willingness to join us," said Wichita Aero Club Executive Director Dave Franson.
 
Tom Poberezny was first elected president of EAA in 1989 and was named Chairman earlier this year, succeeding his father, Paul, who retired. During his 20 year tenure at EAA, membership in the organization has increased 40 percent, to 170,000 members worldwide. An accomplished aviator in his own right, Poberezny was a member of the U.S. National Unlimited Aerobatic Team that captured the World Championship in 1972.

In 2002-2003, he played a pivotal leadership role in the national centennial celebration of flight. He was a member of the Centennial of Flight Commission, empowered by Congress to coordinate and publicize the nation's commemoration of the Wright brothers' historic first flight. Most recently, he has spearheaded EAA's leadership role in the new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft categories in the U.S. These new categories for pilot and aircraft certification are breaking down the time and expense barriers that prevent many people interested in flying from pursuing their dreams.

One of Poberezny's most demanding roles has been chairman of the annual EAA AirVenture Fly-In Convention for more than 25 years. During that time, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, as it is now known, has grown to be the world's largest annual general aviation event, attracting an attendance of more than 500,000 from 70 nations and 10,000 airplanes for one spectacular week every summer.
 
"In the charter of the Wichita Aero Club we established a plan to recognize special achievement in aerospace by annually presenting a trophy to deserving individuals or organizations at a black tie event," Franson explained. "This year is, however, unique, in that it's our first year and one in which our industry has been extremely hard hit by the economic downturn. For that reason, we decided to 'adjust' our focus in 2009 by simply introducing the award rather than presenting it to a recipient, and concentrate our efforts on doing what we could to assist the thousands of our colleagues and neighbors who have lost their jobs or been severely impacted by the state of the economy. Instead of an event that simply celebrates accomplishment, we are collaborating with the United Way of the Plains to do something that will literally provide a way to help people in need," he added.


 
The "No Black Tie" Black Tie Ball is a unique twist on the originally planned event. "We're suggesting that attendees save the money they planned to spend on tuxedos or evening wear and use it to purchase items at the silent auction, thereby contributing to the Laid Off Workers Fund. 'Cocktail attire' will be the appropriate dress code for the evening," Franson explained. "We appreciate this gesture on behalf of the Wichita Aero Club and its member companies and individuals," stated Pat Hanrahan, president of the United Way of the Plains. "The aircraft industry is a vital part of our nation's economic strength and its employees annually are among the highest donors in the United Way system. Now they need us and we will be there for them," he noted.
 
The evening's event will also feature a silent auction. Its proceeds, along with most of those from ticket sales, will be donated to the United Way of the Plains Laid Off Workers Fund. The auction will include a variety of unique items, many with an aviation flavor. Donations are being accepted by the Wichita Aero Club for inclusion. The Wichita Aero Club was founded in October of 2008 and hosts monthly networking luncheons at the Wichita Airport Hilton Hotel. The organization was established to foster and promote interest in aviation, provide a forum focused on the industry's issues and achievements and bring together those with a passion for flight in an environment that expands and enhances professional relationships and furthers cooperation and understanding.

FMI: www.WichitaAeroClub.org

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