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Harrison Ford EAA Scholarship Matching-Funds Effort Launched

Endowment will match up to $100,000 for youth aviation education

EAA Scholarship
Jim and Angela Thompson with former EAA Young Eagles Chairman Harrison Ford.

October 8, 2009 — By all accounts, September 29 was a huge day for the EAA Young Eagles Program: Actor, pilot, and EAA member Harrison Ford stepped down after serving five years as the program’s chairman, and announced his successors, famed US Airways pilots Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles. At a special dinner presentation later that evening, EAA members, the aviation community, and even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger paid tribute to Harrison Ford for his service and welcomed the new program co-chairs. But one brief segment of the evening’s activities - perhaps easily missed amid the big announcements and high-profile appearances - may leave the most enduring legacy.

Jim and Angela Thompson, longtime EAA members and supporters, appeared on the dais for only a few minutes, but their pledge that night will touch the lives of young people for years. The Thompsons announced an endowment to EAA to help fund scholarships in Harrison Ford’s name for young people on the path to becoming a pilot. They explained that the endowment amount would match contributions from other donors up to $100,000, creating a scholarship fund of as much as $200,000.

"As Chairman of EAA Young Eagles for five years, Harrison Ford made a wonderful contribution to the general aviation community.  By funding this endowment, Angela and I are creating what we hope will be an enduring legacy of Harrison's contribution to youth and general aviation," said Jim Thompson, a pilot for 27 years. "We hope that other supporters will join with us in making the Harrison Ford EAA Scholarship a powerful force in aviation scholarship for our young people."

Beginning next year, EAA will begin applying the dividends from the donations and the Thompsons’ matching contribution. These funds could be utilized toward the cost of the FAA written pilot’s exam, flight training, attendance at EAA’s Air Academy, and other pursuits including college attendance. The purpose is to help youth achieve their dreams of flight at whatever level the need exists. Qualifying youth will have completed an EAA Young Eagles flight experience and the follow-up companion program provided by Sporty’s Pilot Shop, the free online Sporty’s Complete Pilot Training Course.

“Some of the youths inspired by their EAA Young Eagles experience will want to take their interest in aviation all the way. Harrison Ford scholarships will help them continue to participate beyond the Sporty’s training, with underwriting of training toward a sport pilot or private pilot’s license,” said Elissa Lines, EAA vice president of development.

“EAA’s approach is to create a recipe for success by providing not only financial aid in the form of scholarships but also encouragement, mentoring, and guidance through the participation of active EAA members at more than 1,000 EAA local chapters worldwide,” Lines added.

Several parties have expressed an interest in donating toward the endowment fund, according to Lines. Her hope is that the Thompsons’ gift will inspire numerous donors. “EAA Young Eagles is such a grassroots program, it would make sense for us to raise the $100,000 that the Thompsons will match by securing $1,000 donations from a hundred givers - or some smaller donations from more aviation enthusiasts who believe in the value of the Young Eagles experience for our young people,” Lines said.

Assuming a 5 percent annual dividend on a $200,000 endowment fund, the Harrison Ford EAA Scholarship will provide $10,000 each year for the aforementioned purposes.

Those interested in learning more or supporting the Harrison Ford scholarships can contact elines@eaa.org or call 1-800-236-1025.

Learn more about EAA scholarships and how to apply. All recipients of EAA scholarships must be EAA members or receive a recommendation from an EAA member.

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