Young Eagles Fundraiser Nets $1.8 Million

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EAA got the stars out to promote its annual "Gathering of Eagles" fundraiser at AirVenture Oshkosh last week, and they brought in bid after bid from an audience over 1,100 strong, raising a total of $1.8 million to support EAA's Young Eagles program. Auction items included a flight in a Sikorsky Air Crane, an aerobatic experience with Sean D. Tucker, resort vacations, and a one-of-a-kind custom 2010 Ford Mustang, which sold for $250,000, the highest bid of the night. Aviation celebs in attendance included Harrison Ford, who has acted as honorary chairman of Young Eagles for the last six years; Sean Tucker; legendary airshow pilot Bob Hoover; Burt and Dick Rutan; Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, the flight crew of US Airways Flight 1549; and many officials from the industry. Skiles auctioned off the leather jacket and shoes he was wearing on the day he and "Sully" ditched an A320 in the Hudson River, fetching $40,000 for the cause.

The Windsock Challenge totaled $300,000, silent auction items raised $100,000, and the Sean Tucker Experience, which includes lunch with Bob Hoover and Harrison Ford, sold for $50,000, EAA said. Ford announced at the event that he will step down as chairman with the Young Eagles, but will stay involved with the organization, and will continue to act as a spokesman for AOPA's GA Serves America campaign, AOPA said. EAA has not yet announced a new chairman to take Ford's place. The annual fundraising event is held in the Eagle Hanger at the EAA Museum.