Aviation leaders, world-renowned celebrities, and those with a shared concern for aviation’s future gathered Thursday night for the annual EAA Gathering of Eagles fundraising gala in the museum’s Eagle Hangar.
The evening began with a welcome from EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower and an inspiring rendition of our national anthem by the Renaissance EMS (Education, Music and Sports) after-school program in Bronx, New York.
A major highlight of the evening was an exclusive preview of film icon George Lucas’ latest project set for release in 2012, Red Tails, about the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
Lucas made his first-ever visit to Oshkosh this year to personally introduce the preview. Lucas was also scheduled to introduce the preview to kick off Friday’s Fly-In Theater program.
Ford Motor Company’s one-of a kind 2012 “Blue Angels” Mustang commanded a $400,000 winning bid, reportedly submitted by a man from California.
This year’s event was also the first time all five past and present chairmen of the Young Eagles program were on hand.
Tribute to Pelton
A special Raise the Windsock challenge gift was named in honor of former Cessna President Jack Pelton, under whose seven-year leadership the Gathering of Eagles raised a total of $12 million for the EAA Young Eagles program.
Aviation industry officials, Cessna jet pilot owners, and the Gathering steering committee members combined to donate a total of $110,000 in Pelton’s name and the audience not only matched his gift but raised $235,000 more, including $60,000 from Global Aerospace.
The Sean Tucker experience package and the Named Scholarship offering were in demand. The scholarship to provide flight training hit $50,000, which was immediately matched by the Jim and Angela Thompson Foundation.
The event raised about $2.2 million to support Young Eagles, youth education and experience programs, museum and other EAA programming to help create the next generation of aviators.
Red Tails trailer
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 27-Aug. 2