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Changing of the Guard

Harrison Ford names Sullenberger and Skiles as successors to lead EAA Young Eagles Program

September 29, 2009
— Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, known for their expert handling of their airliner’s emergency landing in the Hudson River in January, today took the helm as co-chairmen of the EAA Young Eagles Program. In a news conference, EAA member, pilot, and famed actor Harrison Ford officially passed the baton after having served for five years as chairman.

EAA Chairman/President Tom Poberezny, who launched the EAA Young Eagles Program in 1992, moderated the news conference. Later that evening, Poberezny hosted a special dinner recognizing Ford for his service and welcoming the program’s new co-chairs.

“Harrison and I were delighted when Sully and Jeff agreed to co chair the program,” Poberezny added. “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 that, by disciplining and applying themselves, Young Eagles can earn marvelous rewards, such as the freedom and thrill of flight. 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.”

Sullenberger and Skiles accepted the offer to lead the program in discussions with Poberezny and Ford that took place during this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which is widely considered the world’s premier aviation event.

“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,” Sullenberger said. “Co-chairing the program is an opportunity that I welcome. Jeff and I are honored to take the stick from Harrison Ford, who has gracefully guided the program for the past five years.”

For Skiles, a rekindled enthusiasm for flight fueled his acceptance of the co-chair role. “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, Skiles said. “I’m eager to share this passion with young people and encourage their participation in aviation.”

The EAA Young Eagles Program, now in its 17th year, has provided inspirational and educational flight experiences to 1.5 million people, thanks to the volunteer efforts of 42,000 EAA member pilots and countless supporters around the globe.


New Young Eagles Co-chairmen Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles.

Sully Sullenberger, Jeff Skiles and Harrison Ford pause for photos after the news conference

For More Information:

EAA Radio:
Interview -
Harrison Ford

Interview - Jeff Skiles

Interview - Sully Sullenberger

Interview: Tom Poberezny

EAA Video:

News Conference

Tribute to Harrison Ford

Young Eagles Testimonial

A Night to Remember - Harrison Ford Tribute

Photo Gallery

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