VAN NUYS, Calif. - March 8, 2004 - Harrison Ford, best known as a renowned actor in more than three dozen films but also an extremely active pilot and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), was introduced today as the new Chairman of the EAA Young Eagles Program, which has flown more than 1 million young people since 1992.
During a welcoming program at Van Nuys, Calif., with EAA President Tom Poberezny, Ford accepted the chairmanship of the program, saying, “It’s daunting to step into General Yeager’s shoes, but aviation is about learning new skills and the satisfaction that comes with practicing them and doing better.”
Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, who has served as Young Eagles Chairman since 1994, has been named the program’s Chairman Emeritus and will continue to participate as one of more than 35,000 volunteer pilots who have been involved since Young Eagles was founded.
“Harrison Ford’s passion for flight has grown through the years, as he has achieved several pilot certificates and ratings, and made aviation a major part of his life,” Poberezny said. “He discovered Young Eagles on his own several years ago and quietly started flying young people. He now has flown 81 Young Eagles. He is a natural fit to help lead us to even greater achievements as EAA members prepare the next generation of aviators.”
The Young Eagles Program’s original goal of flying 1 million young people ages 8-17 was reached in October 2003, when 15-year-old Andrew Grant of German Valley, Ill., was flown by EAA member Rick Ellis. The one-to-one outreach between pilot and youngster was part of what attracted Ford to the program.
“Young Eagles gives kids a view of the world they’ve never seen before,” Ford said. “Each Young Eagle flight is an opportunity to excite kids by sharing your passion for flight and to show them that they, too, can learn the skills to participate in aviation.”
Ford actually began flight training as a college student in the 1960s, but then put his training on hold until he rediscovered it in the early 1990s. He has since earned ratings in rotorcraft and tailwheel aircraft. He has been an EAA member since the mid-1990s and a member of a local EAA Chapter near his home.
The new Chairman is the third in the history of the Young Eagles Program. Academy Award-winning actor Cliff Robertson served as Chairman from the program’s founding in July 1992 through 1994, with Gen. Yeager serving 1995-2003. Under these two Chairmen, EAA’s Young Eagles has grown into the largest youth aviation education program ever created.
Since those first flights in 1992, Young Eagles flights have taken place on every continent except Antarctica and in aircraft ranging from business jets to blimps. Each year, EAA receives numerous reports of young people who have been inspired to pursue aviation as a career or as recreation because of their Young Eagles flights. Many of those early Young Eagles are now introducing flight to other Young Eagles as well. Every major university aviation program and all U.S. military academies also have current students who were inspired by a Young Eagles flight.
“As we launch the second century of powered flight, Young Eagles will also reach for new horizons,” Poberezny said. “We have seen the impact that this program has made on young people, whether or not they pursue aviation. That inspires us to do even more.”
The EAA President also announced new offerings as follow-ups to initial Young Eagles flights, including expanded web site activities and recognition levels for young people interested in aviation. Those specific activities will be announced as they are unveiled.
The Young Eagles Program was founded in 1992 and has provided more than 1 million free demonstration flights to young people. Through January 2004, young people around the world have participated in the program through the efforts of 35,000 volunteer pilots.
Actor and private pilot Harrison Ford,
new Chairman of EAA's Young Eagles program..