EAA President and Chairman
Thank You, Harrison
On a sunny March afternoon in 2004, I had the plea- sure of introducing Harrison Ford as the new chair- man of the Young Eagles program, succeeding Gen.
Chuck Yeager. Now, five years later, I am equally proud
to watch Harrison announce that he will be succeeded
in leading the Young Eagles program by Chesley “Sully”
Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles. It is a bittersweet moment;
we are excited to welcome Sully and
Jeff to their new roles, yet a bit sad as
Harrison steps down from his leadership position.
Harrison’s tenure as chairman has
been far from ceremonial. In our initial conversations, he said if he were
to take on the chairman position, he
didn’t want it to be an “honorary”
role. He wanted to be an active part
of the program. He definitely lived up
to that challenge.
He has been engaged, flying young
people, motivating pilots, volunteers, and parents, providing his thoughts and suggestions, and promoting the
program internationally. In many ways, he has helped
expand Young Eagles beyond our expectations.
When we launched Young Eagles in 1992, many
thought the program would end when we reached our
goal of flying one million Young Eagles by the 100th
anniversary of powered flight in 2003. But Young Eagles
quickly became such a significant part of EAA’s culture
that it had to continue. Young Eagles plays an important
role within the EAA membership because it gives us the
opportunity to build aviation’s future by getting children
involved. It has become a central activity for EAA chapters. Without question, thanks to your effort and support,
Young Eagles has become the most far-reaching youth
education initiative in aviation history.
As with our past chairmen, Harrison has left his mark
on the program. In 1992, founding Chairman Cliff
Robertson stepped forward to establish the credibility of
Young Eagles. He was followed in 1994 by Gen. Chuck
Yeager, who made it his personal mission to lead the program to our initial goal.
At the time Harrison accepted the leadership role, he
was already an active pilot who believed in the value of
the program. He expressed it best when he said, “Many
kids growing up today are not exposed to the responsibili-
His accomplishments as
Young Eagles chairman
demonstrate his belief
not only in the program
but also in the thousands
of dedicated pilots and
ties pilots are used to taking—safety for themselves and
their passengers. Young Eagles shows them that many
different kinds of people have developed the skills that
enable them to take advantage of the freedom that
flight offers. It’s exciting for me to watch these kids
become excited about the potential, about the possibilities, and for them to know this is an earned experience.”
Under his leadership, Young
Eagles has continued to be a
strong program. Much has been
• Nearly 500,000 Young Eagles
have been added to the World’s
• Enhanced visibility of Young
Eagles has enabled us to increase our
outreach and upgrade the program.
• Extensive fundraising has
allowed us to expand our vision,
which has provided additional programs and services to young adults.
• Significant motivation to Young Eagles pilots and
His leadership has helped us to establish next steps
such as the Sporty’s Pilot Program, which now gives Young
Eagles a direct path to a pilot certificate through free access
to Sporty’s complete online pilot training program.
Harrison has a deep passion for aviation. He is focused
and dedicated. His accomplishments as Young Eagles chairman demonstrate his belief not only in the program but
also in the thousands of dedicated pilots and volunteers
who have made it possible.
As comfortable as Harrison became in his role, he also
realized he could do more. Now, he plans to transition
into a different mission. He’s promised to remain active
with Young Eagles, but he will take a higher profile in
supporting advocacy issues on behalf of the entire general
Harrison Ford has earned a reputation as one of the
world’s finest entertainers. More importantly, within the
aviation community, he has demonstrated that his passion, dedication, and contributions have made him a pilot
Thank you, Harrison, for your leadership, your wisdom, your inspiration, and, more importantly, for the
friendship you have extended to all of us.