|Edsel Ford II
On Tuesday, Edsel B. Ford II, Charlie Harris, and Dick VanGrunsven will be acknowledged for their aviation contributions that represent the "essence" of EAA with a 2012 President's Award. Join EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Theater in the Woods to honor these deserving award recipients.*
Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, is a member of Ford Motor Company's board of directors, and in 2001, he purchased Daimler Chrysler aviation and restored its original name to Pentastar Aviation. Ford is now the sole owner of the aviation company, headquartered at Oakland County International Airport near Detroit, Michigan. Ford is also a board member of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
"Edsel is a visionary leader within his industry," said EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower. "He understands the powerful role that aviation has played in the success of his family business, and to the prosperity of our nation. Edsel strongly believes that aviation must regenerate and is an ardent supporter of inspiring people to fly and achieve their dreams."
2006 EAA Hall of Fame inductee and Lifetime EAA member Charlie Harris cofounded the National Biplane Association in 1987 and is its current chairman and president. He also served as chairman of the world's largest biplane gathering, the Biplane Expo in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, since its founding.
Harris is a 30-year member of VAA Chapter 10, and Warbirds Squadron 10 out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and owns and flies his own collection of pristine-condition vintage aircraft. Harris was elected a director of the VAA in 1988 and has served as a treasurer since 1996. Additionally, in 1993, Harris initiated the contacts and helped to further discussions that later resulted in the Phillips Petroleum Company's discounted fuel program for the EAA Young Eagles program.
"As a longtime EAA volunteer whose passion for what EAA stands for is exemplary and inspirational, Charlie helped lead the VAA to its success as the premier organization for vintage aircraft as a longtime director," Hightower said. "He preserves and brings to life the rich history by telling the aviation stories that shaped our nation and defines so much of who we are as Americans."
With this year's celebration of Van's Aircraft's 40th anniversary, EAA honors its founder and CEO Dick VanGrunsven. Since the company's founding, Van's aircraft has sold kits for more than 7,000 aircraft, making them the world's most popular homebuilt kit airplanes.
"Dick is a designer's designer," Hightower said. "No detail is too small for the proper thought and attention to its role in the overall outcome of the design. This thoughtfulness has led to safe, well-designed airplanes that help aviators enjoy expanded-envelope flying, safely."
VanGrunsven is a current board member of EAA Chapter 105 and has logged more than 12,000 hours of flight time. Hightower also noted his dedication to youth and preserving the homebuilt movement.
"Van is a true visionary for youth education and safety management in the experimental amateur-built industry," Hightower added. "Successful programs such as Teen Flight and Eagles Nest were launched with his insight and support, and are a true success.
"He is a true ambassador in the push for safer operations within the amateur-built community and is always bringing the message to promote and protect experimental aviation."
*VanGrunsven will receive his award at 11:45 a.m. during his special appearance at Theater in the Woods.