The Experimental Aircraft Association, organized with three dozen Milwaukee-area aviation enthusiasts on January 26, 1953, is celebrating its 70th anniversary with more than 270,000 members (the most ever) and 900 local chapters focused on growing participation in aviation by sharing The Spirit of Aviation.
“EAA’s founder, the late Paul Poberezny, often said that he never expected this little Milwaukee airplane club to grow into what it has become, but it tapped into a basic aspiration – the freedom to fly,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and Chairman of the Board. “For seven decades, EAA has allowed people to passionately pursue that dream with imagination and innovation, as they found kindred spirits that created an aviation movement that has no equal in the history of manned flight. It is an anniversary to celebrate EAA as an achievement of the individual, as part of a greater group that supports those efforts.”
While the original founding group consisted primarily of those who built, restored, and modified their own aircraft, the organization soon encompassed people across all aviation interests – as Poberezny put it, “welcoming all who wished to participate.” Over its 70 years, EAA enthusiastically welcomed those involved in flying, building, restoring, or simply enjoying flight on all levels.
Today, EAA provides programming to engage people of all ages with aviation, whether it is through resources from its headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or from a local EAA chapter. In addition, the organization works to break down barriers to flight, whether those hurdles come from regulations or access to aviation.
EAA is also known worldwide for its annual fly-in convention, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which attracts more than 10,000 aircraft and a total attendance surpassing 600,000 to Oshkosh in late July each year. That event is the world’s largest fly-in convention, with more than 5,000 volunteers welcoming visitors from more than 90 nations.
“While there are many associations one can join, EAA is among that unique set where members are significantly engaged and encouraged to participate, where aviation can grow on a local level,” Pelton said. “That member-helping-member mindset has fueled the growth of the association throughout its history, and we’re very excited about where the dreams of flight can take us in the future.”