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Young Eagles Co-Chairman Jimmy Graham Visits AirVenture
By Sam Oleson
July 27, 2021 – EAA Young Eagles Co-Chairman and NFL tight end Jimmy Graham, EAA 1139302, paid a visit to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 on Monday prior to returning to Chicago for training camp for this fall’s NFL season. Like everyone, Jimmy was happy to be back at AirVenture after last year’s cancellation.
“To be back here in 2021 after a year off where a lot of people were in their homes and hungry to get back into aviation [is great],” Jimmy said. “One of the biggest things I noticed when landing on Sunday before it even opened up is how many people are here camping. … I think a lot of people are excited to be here for AirVenture and excited to be a part of this big event. It’s absolutely packed, and it’s been a fun 24 hours.”
Three years ago at AirVenture 2018, Jimmy was announced as a co-chairman of the Young Eagles program, co-chairing the program with air show performer Sean D. Tucker. At that initial announcement, Jimmy and Sean gave a Young Eagles flight in Jimmy’s de Havilland Beaver. Since then, Jimmy has given dozens of Young Eagles flights in his Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter.
“EAA Young Eagles has really touched my heart,” Jimmy said. “Over the last three years, the amount of the kids that we were able to fly and the amount of the kids that have been able to come in and get that experience [is great]. As everyone knows with the Huey, to be able to get those kids touching a live piece of history, a piece of warbird history, has been super special not only for them, but for me. It’s unbelievable it’s been three years. … It’s truly been a life-changing experience.”
Looking ahead, Jimmy emphasized that he’s going to continue flying Young Eagles for the rest of his life and hopes to become even more involved with the program once he retires from the NFL.
“I’ve had such an experience with our youth over the last few years,” he said. “Last year I was able to be nominated for Man of the Year with the Chicago Bears. Obviously a truly special honor to be nominated for that award, but a big part of it was because of EAA Young Eagles and the work we’ve been doing. For me, this is a lifelong thing. I’m going to continue to share my passion and reach out to kids to show them how great aviation is. … Once I’m retired, which who knows how long that’s going to be, it might be this year, but I’m going to continue to press forward with EAA Young Eagles. … I’m going nowhere, and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”