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2008 EAA Skiplane Fly-In

Happy Birthday, Audrey and EAA!

Bill Weber was the only pilot to make it into Oshkosh for Saturday's skiplane fly-in, arriving at noon in his 1962 Champion Challenger.

More than 140 pounds of chili was served at the fly-in.

Paul Poberezny visits with attendees on the day marking the 55th year of EAA.

Audrey Poberezny watches as longtime EAAer Gene Chase cuts her birthday cake.

January 26, 2008 — As EAA Founder Paul Poberezny has said many times, while it was airplanes and the love of aviation that brought people together to form the EAA, the organization is really all about people. At no time was that more evident than on the organization's 55th anniversary, Saturday, January 26, as a large group of aviation enthusiasts turned out on an overcast, flurry-filled day for the annual EAA Skiplane Fly-In at Pioneer Airport. While IFR conditions prevented the vast majority of skiplanes from making the journey to Oshkosh, that didn't seem to matter to the hundreds of folks who came to celebrate the establishment of EAA, as well as the birthday of EAA's matriarch, Audrey Poberezny.

Pioneer's Phillips 66 Hangar was filled with folks enjoying chili (140 pounds of it were consumed), chicken soup, three sheet cakes marking the twin occasions, and each other's company, with hangar flying taking place throughout the building.

Bill Weber of Brodhead, Wisconsin, was the lone pilot who managed to find a crease in the weather just big enough to land his restored 1962 Champion Challenger 7GCBC at about noon. It was pretty close, though.

"It was a real nice ride," he said while affixing his fox-pelted prop covers. "As I flared out, I heard from the tower, 'Welcome to Oshkosh. We're now IFR.'" Saturday was about the fifth or sixth time he's flown into the traditional January event in the airplane. Before that he arrived with his 1945 7AC Champ.

Upon Weber's arrival, people poured out of the hangar to witness the sole representation of a skiplane to be seen on this day. No sooner had he landed, Weber was talking with well-wishers, answering all kinds of questions about the airplane - such as how the vortex generators on his airplane affected it performance - and the ride over from C-37 in Brodhead.

About the only regret Weber had was forgetting to bring the red stockings he used on the furry prop covers - "For the foxes' tongues," he said.

Saturday also marked the area's ascension from about a 10-day cold snap where temperatures were more often than not in the subzero range and seldom higher than single digits.

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