We Owe Paul Better


I rarely, if ever, do public service announcements, but I was on the AirVenture grounds early the other morning, and saw something that would make Paul Poberezny cry if he was still around—trash on the hallowed grounds of the EAA Fly-in!

One of the fundamental credos of the annual EAA event has always been that if you see a piece of litter or garbage, you pick it up and throw it in the trash—no matter who you are. From pilot to tourist to an EAA manager—we are all part of the “janitorial” staff that try to keep the grounds spotless throughout the show.

I am afraid that I have noticed a great deal more trash in general this year, and precious few people bending over to pick it up and toss it in a dumpster or trash container. This has been true front eh North 40 to “North Fond Du Lac” (as the south end of the field is referred to), and from the parking areas to the runway. The most egregious violation of the “clean it up” ethos clearly in the area where the general public watches the airshow, then discard their bottles and wrappers on the way out of the grounds, sometimes where they were sitting, sometimes near (but not in) a trash container.

But I’m not going to just blame this on the “tourists” – for we, the members have to set an example. After dropping my wife off at her airplane and watching her depart, I spent ten minutes sweeping some of the homebuilt parking area along the runway 18 parallel, and came away with a couple of handfuls of wrappers and pieces of paper. We even found a bag of pills and some cups.

Let’s remember the ethics of the Pobereznys, the family who imprinted their values on the EAA at the very beginning. Clean up after yourself, and clean up after your neighbor if you have to—let’s keep the tradition of pride in our surroundings alive in the EAA, and on the AirVenture grounds.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. Thanks Paul. This is much more important than meets the eye, this I think is a vital step in preserving our idea of civilization.

  2. My first visit to Air Venture and I have been so impressed with the cleanliness be that litter or the washrooms. You certainly would be very angry at a UK event. The organisation and welcome from everyone has been outstanding – thank you EAA and America.

  3. I’ve only been to Oshkosh about 4 times, all since 2008. What always amazes me is how clean the entire state of Wisconsin is. It is a pleasure to drive for miles and miles and not see any litter on the roads and highways. Then I come home to Houston and am embarrassed to be a resident. Very pitiful here with regards to road litter, of course a big factor is there are close to 7 million people in the Greater Houston metro area. If we’re going to visit Wisconsin, let’s leave it cleaner than we found it.

  4. My first and sadly my only trip to Oshkosh was 1976. Great trip. One thing I took away from the event was, see litter, pick it up. Period. I’m sorry that apparently has changed.

  5. From the pictures it looks like to the untrained eye that those big green things are trash receptacles. In the first picture they are over flowing, which means they should be emptied out more frequently. People can be lazy and not want to carry an item to the next trash can. On the second picture much of this probably comes from when the container of that size is dumped into the truck, or items are blown out when nearing the top. These problem areas you pictured should be brought to the attention of the EAA so that they can establish where problem areas are and look for some type of corrective action. As a yearly volunteer I would suggest a Grounds Keeping Chair be established with several golf carts ready to respond to these types of issues. Or we can just ask those that do not litter to pick up everyone else’s trash.

  6. Thanks for mentioning this, Paul! I noticed this last year as well. We should all do more and not assume this is someone else’s job.


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