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Changing of the Guard

Harrison Ford names Sullenberger and Skiles as successors to lead EAA Young Eagles Program

Sully and Skiles
Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles

September 29, 2009 — EAA announced Tuesday (September 29) Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, known for their emergency landing in the Hudson River in January, as the new co-chairmen of the EAA Young Eagles Program.  EAA member, pilot, and famed actor Harrison Ford, having served for five years as the chairman of this program that inspires and educates youth by sharing with them the most inspirational of aviation activities, introduced his replacements in a news conference at the Santa Monica Airport, in California.

Ford enjoyed his time as chairman of the Young Eagles and talked about how his renewed involvement in aviation has been rewarding, “I didn’t come to aviation until late in my life, I flew a bit in college, but I couldn’t afford it.  Later on I became interested in aviation.”  Ford said, “I was 52 years-old and I wanted to learn something new.  I think in a way aviation helped me re-invent my life….The most important thing I’ve done to this point is to work with the EAA and the Young Eagles program.”

EAA Chairman/President Tom Poberezny, who launched the EAA Young Eagles Program in 1992, thanked Ford for his leadership and talked about why the new co-chairmen were selected, “Harrison and I were delighted when Sully and Jeff agreed to co-chair the program,” Poberezny said. “They were ideal candidates not only because of the skill they demonstrated on that fateful day in January but also, and perhaps more significantly, because of the leadership they’ve shown since that time.”  Later in the evening Poberezny hosted a special dinner recognizing Ford for his service and welcoming the program’s new co-chairs.

Sullenberger and Skiles accepted the offer to lead the program in discussions with Poberezny and Ford that took place during this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.  Sully Sullenberger shared the story of the first time he soloed an airplane and how he wants to share that feeling with other young people, “It’s that passion, it’s that freedom that I want to share with others” Sullenberger said. “Flying has been great to me and its great fun.  That’s why we’re here.”

For Skiles, a rekindled enthusiasm for flight fueled his acceptance of the co-chair role. “What we [Sullenberger and me] would like to do with the Young Eagles program is exemplify and promote the idea that training, preparation, and teamwork, which is so much a part of what we do as aviation professionals, can really benefit anybody, even young people trying to decide what to do with their lives, not necessarily in aviation.

One other highlight of the Young Eagles presentations on Tuesday was the announcement of a $100,000 EAA scholarship endowment in Harrison Ford’s name.  Jim and Angela Thompson, longtime EAA members and supporters, made the commitment to honor Harrison for his Young Eagles efforts.  The endowment also contained a matching-funds challenge to the flying community, and several aviation enthusiasts have already expressed interest in contributing to the fund.  This scholarship will be a superb way to recognize Harrison’s dedication to the future generations of flight, and we appreciate Jim and Angela’s commitment to the Young Eagles program and young people.

The EAA Young Eagles Program, now in its 17th year, has flown nearly 1.5 million youth, with the help of a corps of 42,000 EAA members/pilots and thousands more volunteer ground support personnel.  EAA announced Tuesday (September 29) Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, known for their emergency landing in the Hudson River in January, as the new co-chairmen of the EAA Young Eagles Program.  EAA member, pilot, and famed actor Harrison Ford, having served for five years as the chairman of this program that inspires and educates youth by sharing with them the inspirational of aviation activities, introduced his replacements in a news conference at the Santa Monica Airport, in California.  

EAA Radio
Interview - Tom Poberezny
   
EAA Video: Press Conference
  Tribute to Harrison Ford
  Young Eagles Testimonial
View the Photo Gallery
 

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