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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedHarrison Ford surprised to receive Freedom of Flight award
By Barbara A. Schmitz,  EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Chris Miller
Harrison Ford received the Freedom of Flight award at Theater in the Woods on Tuesday night.

July 29, 2009 - Oshkosh, WisconsinMention Harrison Ford and most people think of his movie roles, such as Han Solo in the "Star Wars" series or Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and its three sequels.

But to the hundreds of youth who have received a free airplane ride with him through EAA's Young Eagles program, he's just another pilot who is trying to keep the future of general aviation alive and thriving.

However, to EAA President and Chairman Tom Poberezny, Ford has done much more. That's why Poberezny awarded Ford the organization's highest honor Tuesday night at Theater in the Woods.

"The Freedom of Flight award is the most significant annual EAA award given to individuals who truly make a difference in aviation and EAA," Poberezny said. "Young Eagles is the most important program we have for building the future of aviation. It has become a part of the culture of EAA, leading to the development of pilot programs and flying academies."

"This is a surprise," Ford said. "I'm very grateful for the recognition."

Ford has been chairman of the EAA Young Eagles program since 2004.

"This is a job that I've been proud to do the past few years, but I'm a member of a large, dedicated team of volunteers and pilots that is the Young Eagles program," Ford said. "And the focus and management of the program comes from the top. If anyone is to be congratulated, it's the pilots and volunteers and leadership of EAA. I am very proud to be a part of the effort to bring new, young pilots into the fold, which of course is critical to the maintenance of general aviation."

Ford has done more than just promote general aviation and the program since he became Young Eagles chairman. Since he first participated in the program in 2001, he has given nearly 300 youth a chance to fly with him in his deHavilland Beaver and Bell 407 helicopter.

Ford actually began flight training as a college student in the 1960s, but then put his training on hold until the early 1990s. He earned his pilot's certificate in 1996 and then joined EAA and Chapter 1049 near his ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Since earning his private pilot certificate, Ford has added a number of additional ratings to his aviation resume, including a taildragger endorsement and ratings to fly single-engine seaplanes, helicopters, and instruments. Besides the Beaver and Bell helicopter, he also owns an Aviat Husky, a Beech A-36 Bonanza and a Cessna Grand Caravan.

Ford has appeared in about 40 feature films, including "The Fugitive," "Air Force One" and, "Patriot Games." In 1998 he appeared in the romantic comedy, "Six Days Seven Nights," in which he did his own flying. In fact, Ford will introduce the movie at the Fly-In Theater tonight.

He also received an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the suspense thriller "Witness," and Golden Globe nominations for his roles in "Sabrina, " "The Fugitive," and "The Mosquito Coast." In 2002, the Golden Globes honored him with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Young Eagles Program was founded in 1992 and has provided nearly 1.5 million free demonstration flights to young people since its inception.

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