Sullenberger And Skiles To Co-Chair Young Eagles

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For the last five years, Harrison Ford has acted as chairman of the EAA's Young Eagles program, but this week he ended his term and handed over the job to Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, known for their expert handling of an emergency landing in the Hudson River in January. The two pilots visited EAA during AirVenture last summer, where they drew huge crowds and rediscovered their GA roots. "I'm grateful to EAA and the AirVenture Oshkosh convention for allowing me to fall in love with aviation for a second time in my life," said Skiles during a news conference on Tuesday. "I'm eager to share this passion with young people and encourage participation in aviation." Sullenberger also recalled this summer's visit as a pivotal moment. "After having the opportunity to learn more about the EAA Young Eagles Program while I was in Oshkosh, Jeff and I were inspired to get involved," he said. "Co-chairing the program is an opportunity that I welcome. Jeff and I are honored to take the stick from Harrison Ford." Click here to listen to audio interviews with Ford, Sullenberger and Skiles at the EAA Web site, or click here for video of Sullenberger and Skiles at AirVenture.

EAA President Tom Poberezny, who launched the EAA Young Eagles Program in 1992, thanked Ford on Tuesday for his service and welcomed the new co-chairs. "Harrison and I were delighted when Sully and Jeff agreed to co-chair the program," he said. "They were ideal candidates not only because of the skill they demonstrated on that fateful day in January but also, and perhaps more significantly, because of the leadership they've shown since that time. They've been excellent ambassadors on behalf of aviation." Ford agreed. "For five years as the program chair, I've stressed the program's message of earned reward, showing young people that, by disciplining and applying themselves, they can earn marvelous rewards, such as the freedom and thrill of flight," he said on Tuesday. "Now, Sully and Jeff will add an emphasis on the value of training, preparation, and teamwork. No one could bring more credibility in sharing these concepts with our youth."

US Airways announced on Monday that Sullenberger is returning to work in a new role as "management pilot." In addition to his flying duties, Sullenberger will join the US Airways flight operations safety management team. "The months since January 15 have been very full, and my family and I have had some unforgettable experiences," Sullenberger said in a US Airways news release. "However, I have missed working with my colleagues at US Airways and I am eager to get back in the cockpit with my fellow pilots in the months ahead. In my new role, I will continue to be the same kind of advocate for aviation safety that I have been for several decades." The airline said it will release more details later regarding Sullenberger's return to the flight deck. Meanwhile, Sullenberger's book, "Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters," is due to be published on Oct. 13. Skiles returned to work earlier this year.