U.S. Airways Flight 1549 pilots to lead Young Eagles

October 1, 2009

EAA Press Conference EAA President Tom Poberezny (far left), Captain Sullenberger, First Officer Skiles, and former EAA Young Eagles Chairman Harrison Ford (far right) at the EAA Press conference. Photo Credit EAA.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 pilots who made the acclaimed emergency landing on the Hudson River in January, have been named co-chairmen of the EAA Young Eagles Program.

EAA members have given flights in general aviation aircraft to nearly 1.5 million young people through the Young Eagles Program since it was launched in 1992. Actor and pilot Harrison Ford, who served as chairman of the program for five years, announced his successors in a news conference on Sept. 29.

“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,” Ford said. “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.”

EAA President Tom Poberezny moderated the news conference.

“Harrison and I were delighted when Sully and Jeff agreed to co-chair the program,” Poberezny 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.”

Poberezny hosted a dinner recognizing Ford for his service and welcoming the program’s new co-chairs. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger attended the dinner and program, along with celebrities from the aviation world and members from more than 20 EAA local chapters.

Sullenberger and Skiles accepted the offer to lead the program in discussions with Poberezny and Ford during this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, according to an EAA press release. Previous program chairs have included Oscar-winning actor and avid pilot Cliff Robertson and aviation legend Chuck Yeager.