By Dave Higdon
A year ago this airplane was the dream of a compassionate American, a way to honor and assist wounded warriors travel to their homes or rehabilitation sites with the convenience, comfort, and privacy available only on a general aviation aircraft.
Thursday at EAA AirVenture 2012 that dream turned into reality when Eclipse Aerospace Inc. (EAI) donated the completed Eclipse 500 very light jet to the private Veterans Airlift Command, ready to serve the American combat veterans as they served us.
The Hero's Total Eclipse, as the aircraft is designated, began its transition last year at the AOPA Convention in Hartford, Connecticut, when EAI announced the donation of an Eclipse jet to the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC).
That anonymous patron, deeply touched by the compassionate and unparalleled selflessness of the VAC's volunteer aircraft owners and pilots, donated the aircraft.
The VAC is made up of pilots and aircraft owners who donate their planes and their time to transport not only our wounded troops but also and their families to facilities throughout the country.
In conjunction with the donation Eclipse Aerospace announced its commitment to contribute more than $500,000 toward converting this aircraft into one of the finest Total Eclipse aircraft ever produced by EAI.
The transition complete, Americans attending AirVenture 2012 got to witness the handoff of the Hero's Total Eclipse to the VAC's Veterans Honorary Vice Chairman of the National Advisory Board Airlift Command, retired general Richard B. Myers. Gen. Myers retired as the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2005.
He served as the principal military advisor to the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council, among his many other posts in an illustrious military career.
"Taking care of our wounded troops is a top priority of this country and now with the VAC's very own Hero's Total Eclipse our wounded soldiers will be able to travel with their families in comfort to receive the care they need," Gen. Myers said.
The Total Eclipse is an update and improvement of the original Eclipse 500, the first VLJ, which debuted at EAA AirVenture a decade ago and is now proceeding toward a reincarnation as the Eclipse 550.