Experimental Aircraft Association

Last updated

Experimental Aircraft Association
Experimental Aircraft Association logo.svg
Formation1953;68 years ago (1953)
Founder Paul Poberezny
Type Nonprofit organization
39-0917537 [1]
Legal status 501(c)(3)
PurposeTo grow aviation through participation and education, to deliver educational offerings and activities that guide new participants, and to reduce barriers to participation. [1]
Headquarters Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.
Area served
Membership (2017)
Key people
Jack Pelton (CEO and Chairman)
Tom Poberezny (Chairman Emeritus)
Sean Tucker (Young Eagles co-Chairman)
Brian Wierzbinski (Executive Vice President and CFO)
Subsidiaries EEA IMC LLC,
EAA Aviation Foundation Inc (501(c)(3) [1]
Revenue (2018)
$39,868,940 [1]
Expenses (2018)$37,997,229 [1]
Employees (2017)
872 [1]
Volunteers (2017)
5,500 [1]
Website www.eaa.org
EAA AirVenture 2004 EAA AirVenture 2004.jpg
EAA AirVenture 2004
Skywriting over Oshkosh, WI during AirVenture 2008 Skywriting over Airventure.jpg
Skywriting over Oshkosh, WI during AirVenture 2008

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is an international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States. Since its inception it has grown internationally with over 200,000 [2] members [3] and nearly 1,000 chapters worldwide, and hosts the largest aviation gathering of its kind in the world, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. [4]



The EAA was founded in 1953 by veteran aviator Paul Poberezny along with other aviation enthusiasts. The organization began as more or less a flying club. Poberezny explains the nature of the organization's name, "Because the planes we flew were modified or built from scratch, they were required to display an EXPERIMENTAL placard where it could be seen on the door or cockpit, so it was quite natural that we call ourselves the "Experimental Aircraft Association". [5] The EAA was incorporated in Wisconsin on 22 March 1955. [6] Homebuilding is still a large part of EAA, but the organization has grown over the years to include almost every aspect of aviation and aeronautics.

EAA's first location was in the basement of Poberezny's Hales Corners, Wisconsin home. In the early 1960s, the association's first headquarters was built in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. That was the headquarters for the organization until 1983, when EAA combined its headquarters and fly-in site in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The EAA Aviation Center also includes the EAA Aviation Museum, with more than 200 aircraft, approximately 130 of which are on display at any given time. [7]

In 1953 the Experimental Aircraft Association released a two-page newsletter named The Experimenter. The newsletter was written and published by founding members Paul and Audrey Poberezny along with other volunteers. The newsletter transitioned to a magazine format and was renamed Sport Aviation and became a membership benefit. [8] The Experimenter name lives on, however, in an online magazine specifically for amateur-built and light plane enthusiasts that debuted in 2012. It was folded into the monthly Sport Aviation print magazine in 2015. [9]

In 2010, the United States' national aeromodeling organization, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, was involved in negotiations with the EAA homebuilt aviation organization, that resulted in a "memorandum of understanding" that is intended to encourage collaboration between the two American-based sport aviation organizations, in developing, in the words of the AMA's then-President Dave Mathewson, "the creation of new concepts that will promote aviation, both full-scale and modeling, as a perfect family recreational and educational activity". [10] [11] This link with the AMA has further strengthened in the face of unprecedented FAA concern of aeromodeling as a form of UAS activity they now have a reason to regulate, and are now tasked with regulating - the EAA, in late November 2019, stated that "We see model aviation as an important pathway to manned flight," adding that "Our goal in this risk assessment process is to represent the safety concerns of our members while allowing the highest degree of freedom for legacy model aircraft, which have flown alongside us in the airspace for decades." [12]

In 2015, the EAA and EAA Young Eagles were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. [13]


EAA Aviation Museum EAAAirAdventureMuseum.jpg
EAA Aviation Museum
Eagle Hangar at the EAA Aviation Museum EAAAirAdventureMuseumEagleHangar.jpg
Eagle Hangar at the EAA Aviation Museum
EAA Air Adventure Museum sign on Interstate 41 EAAAirAdventureMuseumSign.jpg
EAA Air Adventure Museum sign on Interstate 41

Located adjacent to EAA's headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the EAA Aviation Museum is an extensive collection of aircraft and aviation displays. The Museum is home to EAA's collection of more than 200 aircraft, of which more than 90 are on display inside the museum at any time. The museum's Pioneer Airport is a re-creation of a vintage aerodrome, with more than 40 additional airplanes on display. From May through mid-October (daily Memorial Day through Labor Day), flights are offered in vintage aircraft.

Programs and activities

Technical Counselor program

To help ensure that all amateur-built aircraft are well-constructed, safe aircraft, the EAA organizes a group of volunteers, known as Technical Counselors, who will visit the construction project to identify any areas of concern. Technical Counselors are EAA members who volunteer their time and who have met at least one of the following criteria:

There is no charge for this on-site review. The program is strictly voluntary. The recommendations of the Technical Counselor are advisory only. The EAA recommends a minimum of three Technical Counselor visits over the course of construction.

Flight Advisor program

The Flight Advisor Program is designed to increase homebuilt aircraft safety by developing a corps of volunteers who have demonstrated expertise in specific areas of flying and making them available to EAA members who may be preparing to fly an unfamiliar aircraft. A Flight Advisor helps the pilot conduct a self-evaluation as well as evaluate the flying characteristics of the aircraft. The pilot then uses that evaluation to decide whether he or she is capable of flying that airplane. If not capable, the Flight Advisor explains where and how he or she can get the proper instruction, or alternatively find someone to make the initial flights. [14]

Under the EAA Flight Advisor Program, the Advisor does not fly or decide whether or not the pilot is capable of flying the airplane to be tested. The Advisor provides the pilot with the pros and cons as they relate to this specific combination of pilot and airplane. The pilot makes the final decision on how to proceed with the flight testing program. [14]

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Wittman Field during the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow 2011 OSH-2011.jpg
Wittman Field during the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow 2011

Each summer EAA presents the largest annual general aviation event in the world, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, also commonly known as the "Oshkosh Airshow". During the event, the city's airport, Wittman Regional Airport, named after Steve Wittman, is the busiest airport in the world (in terms of traffic movements). [15] The week-long event annually attracts around 10,000-12,000 planes and a total attendance of more than 500,000. The event also attracts more than 800 exhibitors, hosts nearly 1,000 forums, seminars and workshops, and welcomes more than 700 journalists each year. [16]

The annual fly-in was first held in 1953 at what is now Timmerman Field in Milwaukee. In 1959, the growing event moved to the Rockford, Illinois airport. [17] Attendance at the fly-in continued to grow until the Rockford airport (now Chicago Rockford International Airport) was too small to accommodate the crowds, and so it was moved to Oshkosh in 1970. A study conducted in 2008 by the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh determined that the 500,000 annual fly-in attendance generates $110 million of tourist income for the three counties surrounding the airport. [16]

Young Eagles

A GlaStar built for Young Eagles flights YoungEaglesGlastar.jpg
A GlaStar built for Young Eagles flights

The EAA also sponsors the Young Eagles program, which was started in 1992 by Tom Poberezny and others, with the aim of giving one million children an airplane ride by 17 December 2003, the Centennial of Flight (see Wright brothers and Wright Flyer ). The program reached that goal, [18] and has continued, with more than 2 million young people flown as of July 2016 and more introduced to and educated around the benefits of general aviation. [19]

The Young Eagles program has been overseen by a series of nationally famous chairmen:

Sun 'N Fun Airshow

The other major yearly airshow attended by EAA members and staff is Sun 'n Fun, held every April in Lakeland, Florida. Sun 'n Fun has been an independent organization from the EAA since its first show in 1975, although the event has always involved significant EAA participation. The two organizations signed an agreement in January 1989 recognizing their independence. On 30 March 2005 Sun 'n Fun issued a press release affirming the independence of the two organizations but assuring the aviation public that they would continue to work together. As such Sun 'n Fun remains a show with participation from EAA chapters and a presence from the national EAA staff, but it is not an EAA event. [20]

Organizational structure

Founder Paul Poberezny driving "Red One" at AirVenture 2010 Paul Poberezny - Red One.jpg
Founder Paul Poberezny driving "Red One" at AirVenture 2010
Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton in 2018 Jack J. Pelton EAA CEO at AERO Friedrichshafen 2018 (1X7A4563).jpg
Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton in 2018

The organization is overseen by a chairman, a president, a CEO and a board of directors. Paul Poberezny assumed the duties of president and CEO at the 1953 founding. In 1989 he assumed the (newly created) position of chairman of the board, and his son Tom Poberezny became president and CEO. In March 2009 Paul Poberezny resigned, and the board voted to elevate Tom Poberezny to chairman of the board. At AirVenture 2010, it was announced that Rod Hightower would succeed Tom Poberezny as president of the organization, effective September 2010. [21] [22]

Hightower resigned on 22 October 2012 "effective immediately", directly after a board of directors meeting during which former Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack J. Pelton was elected chairman. Hightower indicated he was resigning to spend more time with his family and would not relocate from St. Louis to Oshkosh. Pelton was named acting CEO and will oversee the hiring process for Hightower's permanent replacement. [23] In response to questions about Hightower's resignation, Mac McClellan, EAA vice president of publications, stated that it was due to Hightower failing to relocate himself from his home in St. Louis to EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, as the board had expected him to. McClellan said, "I know there's all kinds of complaints, but that's not it. [The residency] was the unsolvable requirement. The board sees the president/CEO living in the Fox Valley as essential to the mission." [24]

Local chapters may be formed whenever ten or more EAA members reside in a given area.

Chapters are encouraged to meet monthly. The first chapter meeting occurred at Flabob Airport in California, with noted aircraft designer and builder Ray Stits presiding. [25]


See also

Related Research Articles

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Experimental Aircraft Association annual convention and air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an annual air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport and adjacent Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States. The southern part of the show grounds, as well as Camp Scholler, are located in the town of Nekimi and a base on for seaplanes arrivals on Lake Winnebago is in Black Wolf. The airshow is arranged by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), an international general aviation organization based in Oshkosh, and is the largest of its kind in the world. The show lasts a week, usually beginning on the Monday of the last full week in July. During the gathering, the airport's control tower, frequency 118.5, is the busiest in the world.

Warbird Vintage military aircraft operated by non military forces

A warbird is any vintage military aircraft now operated by civilian organizations and individuals or, in some instances, by historic arms of military forces, such as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAAF Museum Historic Flight or the South African Air Force Museum Historic Flight.

Homebuilt aircraft

Homebuilt aircraft, also known as amateur-built aircraft or kit planes, are constructed by persons for whom this is not a professional activity. These aircraft may be constructed from "scratch", from plans, or from assembly kits.

Paul Poberezny United States aviator, founder of Experimental Aircraft Association

Paul Howard Poberezny was an American aviator, entrepreneur, and aircraft designer. He founded the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in 1953, and spent the greater part of his life promoting homebuilt aircraft.

Young Eagles

Young Eagles is a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating them about aviation. The program is offered free of charge with costs covered by the volunteers. It was launched in 1992 and, by 2016, has flown more than 2 million children in 90 countries. The program's presenting sponsors are Phillips 66 and Sporty's Pilot Shop.

Cirrus VK-30

The Cirrus VK-30 is a single-engine pusher-propeller homebuilt aircraft originally sold as a kit by Cirrus Design, and was the company's first model, introduced in 1987.

Sun n Fun

Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo is a nonprofit organization in Lakeland, Florida dedicated to the promotion of aviation education. It is best known for the annual week-long fly-in and airshow at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida, usually held during late March or early April.

EAA Aviation Museum Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The EAA Aviation Museum, formerly the EAA AirVenture Museum, is a museum dedicated to the preservation and display of historic and experimental aircraft as well as antiques, classics, and warbirds. The museum is located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, adjacent to Wittman Regional Airport, home of the museum's sponsoring organization, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the organization's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event that takes place in late July/early August.

Cessna NGP

The Cessna Next Generation Propeller Aircraft (NGP) was a proof-of-concept design for a future family of single engine, fixed-gear, high cantilever wing, light aircraft intended for personal, flight training and commercial use.

Steve Wittman American aviator

Sylvester Joseph "Steve" Wittman was an air-racer and aircraft designer and builder.

Sean D. Tucker American aerobatic pilot

Sean Doherty Tucker is an American aerobatic aviator who is sponsored by the Oracle Corporation and performs in air shows worldwide as "Team Oracle". Tucker has won numerous air show championship competitions throughout his career and was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008. He has led several efforts to assist youth in learning to fly or becoming involved in general aviation, and currently serves as co-chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)'s Young Eagles program.

Jack J. Pelton

Jack J. Pelton is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the former CEO of the Cessna Aircraft Company, a subsidiary of Textron Inc. Before becoming Cessna's CEO in 2004, Pelton was its Senior Vice President of Engineering. Prior to joining Textron in 2000, he was Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs at Fairchild Dornier, and previous to this, worked at McDonnell Douglas for over two decades.

Charlie Hillard was an American aerobatics pilot, and the first American to win the world aerobatics title.

ICON A5 Amphibious light-sport aircraft developed by ICON Aircraft

The ICON A5 is an American amphibious light-sport aircraft designed and produced by ICON Aircraft. A concept aircraft was first flown in 2008, and creation of the production tooling began in December 2012. The first production aircraft made its first flight on July 7, 2014, and made its public debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh on July 27, 2014. A year later at AirVenture, it was temporarily donated to the youth group Young Eagles, although the first official A5 customer deliveries did not occur until 2016.

Tom Poberezny US aviation leader

Thomas Paul "Tom" Poberezny is a retired American aerobatic world champion, as well as chairman of the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In and Convention from 1977 to 2011 and president of EAA from 1989 to 2010. He succeeded his father, Paul Poberezny, who founded the organization in 1953.

Aviation in Wisconsin

Aviation in Wisconsin refers to the aviation industry of the American Midwestern state of Wisconsin.

Ladislao Pazmany

Ladislao Pazmany was an aviation pioneer, aeronautical engineer, designer, builder, pilot, teacher, speaker, and author. Born a Hungarian, Pazmany grew up, went to school and worked in his formative years in Argentina, then immigrated to the United States where he lived for the remainder of his life.

Sport Aviation is an aviation magazine published since 1953 starting as The Experimenter. The content focuses on experimental homebuilding of aircraft and general aviation topics, including antique, war, and classic aircraft.

Richard E. "Dick" VanGrunsven is an American aircraft designer and kit plane manufacturer. The number of VanGrunsven-designed homebuilt aircraft produced each year in North America exceeds the combined production of all commercial general aviation companies.

Klapmeier brothers American entrepreneurs, founders of Cirrus Aircraft Corporation

The Klapmeier brothers, Alan Lee Klapmeier and Dale Edward Klapmeier, are American aircraft designers and aviation entrepreneurs who together founded the Cirrus Design Corporation in 1984. Under the leadership of the Klapmeiers, Cirrus was the first aircraft manufacturer to install a whole-plane parachute recovery system as a standard on all its models—designed to lower the airplane safely to the ground in case of an emergency. The device is attributed with saving over 200 lives to date. From the brothers' use of all-composite airframe construction and glass panel cockpits on production aircraft, Cirrus is known for having revolutionized general aviation for modern light aircraft pilots.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Experimental Aircraft Association Inc. Internal Revenue Service. 28 February 2018.
  2. "EAA Surpasses 200,000 Members". eaa.org. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  3. "Join EAA". Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  4. David Gustafson (2012). "Paul Poberezny's Three Great Accomplishments". Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  5. EAA.org, Experimental Aircraft Association. "History of EAA".
  6. "Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc." Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  7. "EAA Aviation Museum Website - Aircraft Collection Page".
  8. "How Sport Aviation is prepared". Sport Aviation. March 1960.
  10. Mathewson, Dave (July 2010), "President's Perspective column", Model Aviation Magazine, 36 (8): 5
  11. Academy of Model Aeronautics (2010). "EAA / AMA Memorandum of Understanding" . Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  12. "EAA Prioritizing Safety, Freedom of Legacy Model Aircraft in FAA Panels". eaa.org. Experiomental Aircraft Association. 27 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019. We see model aviation as an important pathway to manned flight," said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. "Our goal in this risk assessment process is to represent the safety concerns of our members while allowing the highest degree of freedom for legacy model aircraft, which have flown alongside us in the airspace for decades.
  13. Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN   978-1-57864-397-4.
  14. 1 2 Experimental Aircraft Association (2010). "EAA Flight Advisors" . Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  15. Meg Jones (24 July 2004). "EAA AirVenture takes flight for the future". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel . Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.
  16. 1 2 "EAA.org". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  17. "The Early Years". Experimental Aircraft Association. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  18. "Tom Poberezny" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  19. "EAA Young Eagles Website".
  20. Sun 'n Fun (March 2005). "Sun 'n fun and EAA". Archived from the original on 10 November 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2008.
  21. Grady, Mary (July 2010). "EAA Names New President" . Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  22. Grady, Mary (July 2010). "EAA's Rod Hightower Meets The Press" . Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  23. AVweb Staff (22 October 2012). "Hightower Out at EAA". AVweb. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  24. Grady, Mary (24 October 2012). "Pelton: EAA Will Keep on Course". AVweb. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  25. EAA.org EAA Chapters