EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - August 14, 2008 - EAA President Tom Poberezny today announced confirmed total donations at EAA's major annual fundraising event, calling the event's outcome a call to action for the EAA community of aviation enthusiasts. "The success of our Gathering of Eagles validates and reinforces the EAA community's mission, and challenges us to do even more," Poberezny said.
The evening's auction and matching-contribution activities generated more than $2,880,000 in support of EAA's philanthropic aviation-outreach work. It took place in the EAA Museum's Eagle Hangar on Thursday night, July 31, as part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, EAA's annual fly-in, air show, and member convention renowned as "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."
Although the more than 1,000 Gathering of Eagles attendees represented diverse interests, Poberezny underscored their shared purpose. "We were all bound together by a common passion for flight and an understanding of aviation's enormous value as an inspirational and motivational tool," he said. "This outpouring of support raises the expectation that the EAA community will further grow its outreach programs to benefit youth, general aviation, and society at large."
The live-auction segment of the Gathering raised more than $1 million. This amount included a $500,000 bid to purchase a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang, named the AV8R by the top designers and engineers at Ford Motor Company who gave the car its unique styling and features. The car, which Ford Motor Company created and donated specifically to headline the Gathering of Eagles auction, sported a full-glass roof and interior appointments reminiscent of the P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft of the World War II era.
Ford Motor Company's Edsel B. Ford II was accompanied by renowned automobile-industry and -racing personalities Jack Roush and Carroll Shelby in helping to auction the automobile. Collector Tom Gonzalez secured the top bid.
Also drawing generous bids were a Rolls-Royce London travel experience offered by Rolls Royce North America President Jim Guyette and a stay in Jackson, Wyoming including dinner with actor Harrison Ford. Other items donated and auctioned included trips, flights with the world's top aerobatic pilots, a limited-edition Harley Davidson motorcycle, artwork, and an assortment of aviation-oriented items.
A matching-donation activity called "Raise the Windsock" gave donors an opportunity to challenge each other by meeting or exceeding previous pledges. Contributions that helped to vault the matching-donation total to more than $1 million included donations from legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, actor Harrison Ford, Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman Emeritus Russ Meyer, Cessna President and CEO Jack Pelton and wife Rose, and Florida-based highway contractor Bill Bachschmidt.
Actor Harrison Ford, chairman of EAA's Young Eagles Program, kicked off the evening with an appeal for the continued growth of the program, which aims at not only using the exhilaration of flight to inspire youth to pursue and achieve their dreams, but also engendering goodwill toward general aviation. He urged the pilots among the roughly 1,000 attendees to "fly kids and make friends."
Since the EAA Young Eagles program's commencement in 1992, more than 40,000 EAA-member volunteers have provided inspirational flight experiences to 1.4 million youth. In addition to supporting the organization and administration of this nationwide program, proceeds from the Gathering also support the EAA Air Academy, EAA's online AeroScholars program, its world-class museum honoring innovation in aviation, and the operation and touring of historical aircraft.
During AirVenture, Ford met with EAA Young Eagles volunteers, recognizing individuals who had provided extraordinary service to the program in the past year. In these discussions, he underscored the grassroots volunteers' contributions, observing that their collective donation of time, talents, aircraft usage, and fuel surpasses the contribution of any other single donor.
The success of this year's Gathering of Eagles fundraising effort will also help to advance EAA's development of more educational and experiential activities for young people motivated to pursue an interest or career in aviation. ConocoPhillips and Embry-Riddle University have partnered with EAA in this effort.
Cessna Aircraft Company served as hosting sponsor of the Gathering for the fourth consecutive year, and has pledged to host next year's event.
EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 170,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org>.