Jeff Skiles, one of the cockpit crew who safety landed a disabled US Airways airliner on the Hudson River in January 2009, will use his flying skills in the EAA’s sweepstakes plane, a Cessna Skycatcher, to inspire young people this month during a flight tour. Skiles, who with “Miracle on the Hudson” captain Sully Sullenberger serves as Young Eagles co-chairmen, will make four stops en route to the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., which will be held March 29-April 3. During each stop, he will fly young people as part of the Young Eagles program during flight rallies set up by EAA chapters in each community.
“The Young Eagles program has proven to be extremely successful in attracting young people to aviation and helping them on the pathway toward becoming an aviator,” said Rod Hightower, EAA president/CEO. “We want to recognize the work of the 45,000 volunteer EAA-member pilots and 50,000 ground volunteers in the program’s success. To have a noted aviator such as Jeff Skiles pilot an aircraft to these locations and help fly more kids is a way to bring more visibility to the possibilities available for young people through Young Eagles. Join us and bring the family if you’re in the area.”
Since 1992, the EAA Young Eagles program has flown more than 1.6 million young people free of charge. Recent research shows that these young people are five times more likely to become pilots than non-Young Eagles. They also already comprise more than 7% of the nation’s pilot population under age 35.
The flying tour stops, held in conjunction with local EAA chapters, include:
- March 19: St. Louis, Mo. area (Smartt Field, St. Charles, Mo. – SET)
- March 20: Nashville, Tenn. area (Lebanon Municipal Airport – M54)
- March 26: Columbia, S.C. (Jim Hamilton L.B. Owens Airport – CUB)
- March 27: Daytona Beach, Fla. area (Spruce Creek Airport – 7FL6)
During the tour, Skiles will be flying the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, the newest addition to the legendary Cessna aircraft fleet. The Skycatcher will feature markings in its role as the grand prize in this year’s EAA “Share The Spirit” Sweepstakes. The aircraft will be given away on July 31, the final day of the EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, Wis. More sweepstakes information is available at WinAPlane.com.
“This will be a grand adventure, flying and inspiring young people through EAA’s Young Eagles program,” said Skiles, who with Sullenberger was named a Young Eagles co-chairman in September 2009. “Flying the Cessna Skycatcher will only add to the fun of this journey, as we have the opportunity to create the next generation of aviators, tell people about the wonderful world of flight and possibilities that exist for all of us in the sky.”
EAA will also chronicle the journey with continual video and photo coverage on the ground and through a “chase plane.”