Why Do I Fly?
WHY DO I FLY? This is a question we all ask ourselves. For some, it is a question
that needs no answer; flying is a part of their DNA. It’s simply understood that
flying is in their soul.
For most of us, though, the answer to why we fly is something that evolved.
The initial answer drove us in our pursuit of flight. We discovered it brings us
the joy and excitement we feel each and every time we fly or talk airplanes with
fellow aviators and enthusiasts. Speaking for myself, the answer to that question
provides a little insight into my aviation background and why I feel so strongly
Aviation has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. There
were always people at our house, spending time in the garage, talking with
my dad, and sharing
airplane stories while
he was building or
restoring an airplane
project. On Friday
people would go into
the basement of our
home for four or five
hours to discuss a new
organization they just
started called EAA.
To say the least,
aviation was, and is, an
important part of our
family’s life. Growing
up, I spent time at
the airport, while
pursuing other interests. As I became more involved in aviation, I wondered
if it was because I wanted to be engaged or because it was expected of me by
others. It turned out that it was a combination of both. My family gave me the
opportunity to become involved in flying at a young age. My desire turned those
opportunities into a lifelong passion and involvement.
During my college days at Northwestern University, I became even more
involved in flying. Rather than attend my graduation ceremonies, I was in
Louisiana competing in my first aerobatic contest. After graduation I came to
EAA thinking that I’d only be working here for three to six months. Forty years
later, I’m still here!
Left to right: Gene Soucy, Tom Poberezny, and Charlie Hillard
COMMENTARY / POSITION REPORT
I’ve had the opportunity to serve
in every position possible in EAA from
grounds maintenance, aircraft restoration,
and finance to becoming chairman of EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh in the mid-1970s. I
have served in that capacity ever since,
in addition to leading the design and
construction of the EAA Aviation Center
and Museum. In the late 1980s, I became
president of EAA.
Within aviation, I found my own path.
My focus was on competitive aerobatics
and ultimately air show performances
that took me to places I would have never
otherwise visited. For 25 years I felt the
excitement and engagement provided
by aerobatic flying, which allowed me
to enhance and refine my skills. My
engagement with and passion for aviation
grew through my participation as a member
of the Red Devils/Eagles Aerobatic Team.
Charlie Hillard, Gene Soucy, and I had the
opportunity to entertain millions of people
through two and a half decades of air show
performances. This is something I will
As a result, I saw the aviation world from
a different perspective. I met people from
all walks of life who were passionate about
aviation and who shared their excitement
and expectations with me. I developed a new
appreciation of flying and the people who are
involved, which has helped me immensely as
president of EAA. Best of all, I was able to log
more than 7,000 hours of taildragger time in
the Eagle and the Pitts!
Why am I passionate about flying? It
provides emotional satisfaction that comes
from seeing the world from above. It’s the
perfect landing at the end of the flight as the
sun sets over the horizon. Most importantly,
it’s the people I have met. My wife, Sharon,
and I have developed some of our deepest and
most valued friendships as a result of aviation.
They are people who come from all parts of
the United States and from around the globe.
The people within the aviation
community are special…I firmly believe
that! They are focused, dedicated, and
passionate. But chances are, you know that,
too. Airplanes bring us together, but the
real story of EAA and aviation is the people.
That’s why I fly!