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Final Tally: ‘Gathering’ Raises More Than $2 Million
By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159
September 10, 2014 - EAA’s annual Gathering of Eagles fundraiser held July 31 during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 brought together more than 1,000 aviation enthusiasts that raised more than $2 million in support of EAA’s youth education programs.
The Gathering, held at the EAA AirVenture Museum, opened with a video honoring EAA’s late founder Paul Poberezny as a tribute to his life and his accomplishments for aviation and the organization, setting the tone for a night of celebration and memories.
The highlight of the fundraising auction was a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang, with a design inspired by the new F-35 Lightning II fighter jet that sold for $200,000.
The Raise the Windsock activity throughout the evening raised its highest total in history with individual donations at $310,000, including $57,000 in specially minted Gathering of Eagles coins collected from attendees. The funds raised during the Raise the Windsock activities go directly to EAA Young Eagles, in which EAA-member volunteer pilots have flown more than 1.8 million young people at no charge since 1992.
One of the evening’s most entertaining moments occurred during Raise the Windsock. A video showed EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton sending EAA Vice President of Communities and Member Programs Jeff Skiles into a dunk tank on the nose of a replica Airbus, followed by the live opening of the Eagle Hangar doors revealing Skiles in the same situation. The highest bidder for the live dunk tank, Clay Presley of Charlotte, North Carolina, was a passenger on the original “Miracle on the Hudson,” landing in January 2009. Presley successfully soaked Skiles again, this time in support of Young Eagles.
Clues for an auction “mystery box” were given to the audience throughout the night, with bidding occurring prior to revealing the box’s contents. When bidding finished the highest bidder discovered it was a complete Sonex Aircraft kit. GE Aviation generously donated the kit to EAA for the auction.
“There were plenty of smiles and fun moments throughout the evening, but the real winners were the kids with dreams of flight,” said Nadia Farr, EAA’s director of donor relations. “This event gives the aviation community the opportunity to come together in support of youth aviation education, which in return is helping preserve the future of flight for generations to come.”
In previous years, the event has drawn such personalities as actors Harrison Ford, John Travolta, and Morgan Freeman, sports luminaries including Arnold Palmer and Jack Roush, and aviation legends such as Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan.