Ford and Cliff Robertson were among aviation enthusiasts and industry
leaders who helped make the Experimental Aircraft Association's
Gathering of Eagles fundraiser July 30 a great success. The event's
proceeds of $1.9 million will benefit EAA's inspirational and
educational programs that introduce young people to aviation, emphasize
math and science, and strengthen the future of aviation.
The gala's theme, "Attitude is
Everything," reflected the camaraderie and enthusiasm of the 1,100
attendees at this sold-out event, held during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
2009. Each year, this unique charitable event brings together leaders of
the aviation industry who set aside competitive interests to collaborate
on opening the doors to the future for tomorrow's aviation leaders,
engineers, innovators, and pioneers. Also joining this group of
corporate leaders are aviation enthusiasts and Hollywood celebrities who
share a deep passion for flight.
Three auctions were part of the
fundraiser: silent, live and "presidential choice." They
included a winning $250,000 bid for a custom-made AV-X10 Ford Mustang
GT. This one-of-a-kind vehicle, designed specifically as a Ford Motor
Company donation to support EAA's Young Eagles program, was named the
"Dearborn Doll" in tribute to the incredible work of top Ford
engineers and designers who crafted the car in honor of WWII aircraft.
Automotive personalities Jack Roush and Carroll Shelby were in
attendance to congratulate the car collector, Tom Gonzales of Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., on his top bid.
In addition, the shoes and jacket worn by
US Airways Flight 1549 First Officer Jeff Skiles the day he helped
safely land the airliner on the Hudson River were a hot ticket item. The
items drew in a generous $38,000 bid, which was promptly matched by
Airbus to double the total. Lunch with Harrison Ford and aviation great
Bob Hoover, combined with a flight with air show great Sean Tucker,
brought cheers from the crowd and attracted a bid of $50,000. Other
donated auction items included unique trips, flight experiences, a
guitar fashioned from pieces of the famed Red Tail aircraft of the
Tuskegee airmen, an artistically mounted jet fan-blade from a General
Electric engine, Airbus simulator time, plus artwork, autographed
material and an array of aviation items. In addition to auction items,
attendees had the opportunity to match a challenge gift of $100,000 to
"Light the Fire" of imagination in the hearts and minds of our
youth. The challenge triggered more than $300,000 in donations, as
individuals and companies pledged to support EAA programs and
experiences that annually reach more than 70,000 young people throughout
the nation. EAA depends on the generosity of attendees to make youths'
aviation dreams come true. Aviation becomes a tool that promotes
learning, motivates achievement, builds personal responsibility, and
teaches young people that, in all things, their own attitude and
commitment to hard work and charting their course will determine their
ability to achieve their goals.
Among the event's other notable attendees
were Bud Anderson, a WWII triple ace; Wil Shriner, famed comedian; Bob
Hoover, former air show pilot and US Air Force test pilot; Aaron Tippin,
country music artist; and His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman
bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family; all of whom
helped build the significance and the impact of the night.
EAA embodies the spirit of aviation
through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts.
EAA's 160,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and
camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring
recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs,
call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org.