Tom Poberezny is a world champion acrobatic pilot and one of the United States' foremost civil aviation advocates. Born into an "aviation family" in 1946, he is the son of Paul Poberezny, founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The younger Poberezny was in college before his interest in aviation began to zoom. While at Northwestern University, he built airplanes with his father, learned to fly an Aeronca Champ, and then bought a Meyers Little Toot. He developed a love for competition aerobatics that took wing in 1970 when he passed up graduation day at his university to enter his first contest. He won the Intermediate class flying a Pitts Special.
He soon traveled to England with the American team participating in the 1970 World Aerobatic Championships. The US team won its first-ever world title. That fall, he was named US Advanced Category Champion at Fort Worth, Texas. Two years later, in June 1972, Poberezny earned a flying slot on the US team and competed at the World Aerobatics Championships at Salon de Provence, France. It was a triumph for the young pilots from the States; Gene Soucy, Charlie Hillard, and Tom Poberezny added up their cumulative scores to retain the World Aerobatics Championship for America. They received the Nesterov Trophy for excellence in precision flying! The team then put on a formation demonstration that amazed their fellow competitors.
At home, the champions soon formed the "Red Devils" aerobatic team and performed many shows in their vivid red Pitts. The next year, in 1973, Poberezny won the National Unlimited Aerobatics Championship in "one of the proudest moments" of his life. He soon realized that he no longer wanted a career in engineering; he became more active in the operation of EAA and eventually worked in every department. In 1977, he took over management of the EAA Fly-In Convention and Sport Aviation Exhibition in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. "Oshkosh" draws over 12,000 aircraft and more than 1,000,000 participants and spectators.
Poberezny also directed the fund-raising initiative to construct a new EAA World Headquarters and the spectacular Air Adventure Museum, the largest private facility of its type in the United States. Now, as President of EAA, he directs an international organization with 750 chapters and over 400,000 members and oversees the publication of six magazines. He still finds time to get airborne in a Christen Eagle I, now flying his 24th show season with his old teammates as the Eagles Aerobatic Flight Team. They have flown together longer than any other formation aerobatics team in aviation history.
After the 1972 World Aerobatics Championships, Gene Soucy, Charlie Hillard, and Tom Poberezny formed the "Red Devils" Aerobatic team flying the Pitts Special. In l979, they checked out in a specially-built aircraft, the Christen Eagle I, and changed their name to the "Eagles Aerobatic Flight Team." Poberezny and his teammates are known for a formation snap roll immediately after takeoff, and at one airshow even performed with their aircraft chained together. By mid-May 1994, Poberezny had participated in 1518 airshows in 5 countries and thrilled an estimated 34 million spectators.