PITTSBURG — Tom Poznich was a pilot for over 44 years in Pittsburg and on Wednesday a new aircraft tractor was dedicated to him for his years of service at the Atkinson Municipal Airport.
Tom Poznich Sr. was around planes most of his life, his father flew in the service and his uncle was a pilot, which his widow Linda Poznich said is what fueled his passion for flying.
“His dad was in the service and flew a Helldiver, and his uncle flew planes when they were younger — he had always liked going up with his uncle,” she said. “I think he was a natural at it.”
Linda Poznich said she was lucky to go on some of his travels, to the Key West, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico on company business — which she said created good memories.
“He has been a pilot all of our married life — we were married for 44 years and we have been lucky enough to stay here in our home area,” Linda Poznich said.
One of the Poznich’s sons Tom Poznich Jr. and his wife Kari along with their four-year-old daughter Kennedy, were present at the dedication. The couple have three other children Korbin, Jackson and Grant who were in school. The Poznich’s other son Joshua Poznich was unable to attend.
“It is an incredible opportunity for somebody who spent his whole life at the airport to be honored like that is a big deal.” Tom Poznich Jr. said.
Kennedy said she loved to watch her grandfather fly, she didn’t get to go up in the plane, but her brothers have. Her nine-year-old brother Grant wants to be a pilot like his grandfather according to his mother.
“He said Papa will always be his wingman,” Kari said.
An anonymous donor made it possible to purchase the tractor tug.
Atkinson Municipal Airport Airport Manager Bill Pyle said the airport is very appreciative to have received the aircraft tug.
“Tom learned to fly here at Pittsburg as a young man and was able to have his flying career in Pittsburg for over 40 years,” Pyle said. “That’s a very long time and we got to know Tom very well here.”
A plaque which the airport will hang on the wall in memory of Tom Poznich Sr. was presented to the Poznich family.
Linda Poznich said it was an honor to have the tractor tug dedicated to him.
“It is just awesome,” she said. “It is such an honor to have him recognized that way.
“This was such a part of his life — it was his life.”
City of Pittsburg Director of Public Works Cameron Alden said the existing equipment was becoming too old and newer equipment would allow the airport to pull larger planes.
“He had enough impact on the community that someone wanted to anonymously donate money so we would be able to purchase that tow tractor,” Alden said. “It is roughly a $40,000 piece of equipment — that's how much of an impact he had on the community.”
The airport also celebrated the near-completion of the 600 foot extension of the airport’s landing strip. The strip was extended so larger planes could utilize the airport under all conditions.
“For them to be able take off and land in all conditions they needed that additional 600 feet,” Alden said. “Without that extra length they couldn’t take on a full load or in some cases potentially land and take off under some weather conditions.”
Alden thanked the folks at Federal Aviation Administration, Lochner (design engineers) and Capital Paving and Construction for their services and teamwork.
“It is said with every project there’s always a team involved,” Alden said to the crowd. “The FAA made sure we got the funding to move forward, we also had the Lochner as our engineer design inspection for the contract as well.
“The other instrumental member in our teamwork was Capital Paving and Construction, as you can imagine it rains occasionally in Kansas and sometimes it's not just a light mist either — they were able to push through those conditions.”
Alden gave Lochner and Capital Paving and Construction a token of appreciation as well — a small memento signed by all the airport staff.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.