EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton presented the Freedom of Flight Award to the Irwin family at Theatre in the Woods at AirVenture in Oshkosh on July 26, 2023. One of the EAA’s most prestigious awards, the Freedom of Flight award is bestowed annually to recognize contribution to aviation that closely mirror the integrity, entrepreneurship, and innovativeness of EAA members. Past recipients include Paul and Audrey Poberezny, Burt Rutan, Neil Armstrong, Scott Crossfield, and Steve Wittman.

Aircraft Spruce was founded in 1965 by Jim’s parents, Bob and Flo Irwin selling only aircraft grade spruce. Over the years the company grew its product catalog to over 1000 pages, added a renowned website, and now employed 350 people at nine regional locations in the U.S. and Canada. Jim and his wife Nanci acquired the company in 1980 and over the past 15-20 years, their sons Mike, Jeff, and Rob have joined the management team. Jim is an active multi-engine and instrument rated pilot with more than 5,000 hours, and Nanci, Mike, Jeff, and Rob are all pilots as well.

“EAA has been a big part of our success over the years; their members have made out company what it is today,” Jim said. Through the years, as we have grown, we have been involved in many different programs as an EAA sponsor including Young Eagles, Build a Plane, and Sportair Workshops. It has been a great relationship with EAA for nearly 60 years and we want to continue to grow and help the organization in any way we can.”

Click here for the EAA article covering the event.