Actors Harrison Ford (pictured) and Cliff Robertson were among aviation enthusiasts and industry leaders who helped make the EAA’s Gathering of Eagles fundraiser July 30 a success. The event’s proceeds of $1.9 million will benefit EAA’s educational programs that introduce young people to aviation, emphasize math and science, and strengthen the future of aviation.
More than 1,100 people attended the gala during last month’s AirVenture.
Three auctions were part of the fundraiser: silent, live and “presidential choice,” including a winning $250,000 bid for a custom-made AV-X10 Ford Mustang GT. This one-of-a-kind vehicle, designed specifically as a Ford Motor Co. donation to support EAA’s Young Eagles program, was named the “Dearborn Doll” in tribute to the Ford engineers and designers who crafted the car in honor of World War II aircraft. Automotive personalities Jack Roush and Carroll Shelby were in attendance to congratulate the car collector, Tom Gonzales of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on his top bid.
In addition, the shoes and jacket worn by US Airways Flight 1549 First Officer Jeff Skiles the day he helped safely land the airliner on the Hudson River were a hot ticket item. The items drew in a $38,000 bid, which was promptly matched by Airbus to double the total. Lunch with Harrison Ford and aviation great Bob Hoover, combined with a flight with air show great Sean Tucker, attracted a bid of $50,000. Other donated auction items included flight experiences, a guitar fashioned from pieces of the famed Red Tail aircraft of the Tuskegee airmen, an artistically mounted jet fan-blade from General Electric engine, Airbus simulator time, plus artwork, autographed material and an array of aviation items.
Attendees also had the opportunity to match a challenge gift of $100,000 to “Light the Fire” of imagination in the hearts and minds of our youth. The challenge triggered more than $300,000 in donations, as individuals and companies pledged to support EAA programs and experiences that annually reach more than 70,000 young people throughout the nation.
Among the event’s other notable attendees were Bud Anderson, a World War II triple ace; Wil Shriner, famed comedian; Bob Hoover, former air show pilot and US Air Force test pilot; Aaron Tippin, country music artist; and Prince Sultan bin Salman, a member of the Saudi royal family.
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