The Experimental Aircraft Association has a new president — and his last name isn’t Poberezny.
Longtime pilot and EAA member Rod Hightower (pictured, left), a businessman who flies a Stearman, was named to the association’s top post on opening day of AirVenture. Hightower is only the third president in the history of the association and the first outside of the Poberezny family. The extensive search for a new president included screening 700 candidates from “all walks of life,” according to current chairman and president Tom Poberezny (right), who will continue on as chairman when Hightower takes over the presidency starting in September.
Hightower, who has been a pilot since he was 16, has logged more than 2,200 hours. Besides the Stearman, which he restored over a seven-year period, he also has owned a Cessna 210. He holds commercial, multi-engine and instrument ratings.
The Texas native has spent the last 25 years in management for Fortune 500 companies. His last job was as a manager in a private equity firm in St. Louis. He is a director of the National Stearman Foundation and has helped organize the annual Stearman National Fly-in. His duties as EAA president will begin Sept. 7 and include the day-to-day operations of the association, as well as the direction of EAA programs and strategy.
“This is a very exciting time for EAA and general aviation,” said Hightower, who is attending this week’s EAA AirVenture with his wife, Maura, and their five children. “I’m honored to be selected as the next leader of such a passionate group of aviation enthusiasts as EAA members. I’ve been a part of the organization for more than 20 years. There is much work ahead, but I am eager to start.”
Poberezny, who will focus on EAA’s business relationships, philanthropy and the organization’s endowment, has been EAA president since 1989, succeeding his father, Paul, who founded the association in 1953.
“Rod’s selection completes a process that began with an initial meeting of EAA’s executive board in 2005,” said Poberezny. “Rod has the passion for aviation that is absolutely essential to serve EAA’s 160,000 members, as well as the extensive business operations background that is necessary to successfully meet the challenges and opportunities ahead for EAA.”
“It’s important to note that I’m not retiring,” Poberezny continued. “My health is good, but dividing the day-to-day operational duties of EAA president and those essential in EAA’s future development is necessary to benefit both roles.”
For more information: EAA.org