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Arnold Palmer’s EAA Connections Remembered
September 29, 2016 - Hall of Fame golfer Arnold Palmer, whose talent and style made him the game’s first international superstar, was remembered by EAA and the aviation community this week as an avid pilot who supported all of general aviation. Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh at age 87.
With more than 20,000 hours logged as pilot in command, Palmer, EAA 999769, flew around the world during his golf career. As he told the Gathering of Eagles audience during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, he learned to fly because he was fearful of it but understood he needed to fly in airplanes to advance his career.
“We lost a golf legend, one of the greatest gentlemen I have ever known, and an advocate for general aviation,” said EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton, who was a good friend of Palmer because of their Cessna aviation connection. “Arnold Palmer was a supporter of EAA. More importantly for me, he was the hero and role model for all the things our country was founded on. Thank you, Arnie.”
Palmer’s support of EAA included a matching challenge at that 2008 Gathering of Eagles, support for EAA’s B-17 when its tour came to western Pennsylvania, and numerous other instances without fanfare. He also spoke out publicly and strongly in support of general aviation and business aviation, and was invaluable in reaching general and media audiences that did not have an understanding of the value of GA.
Palmer began flying and aircraft ownership with a Cessna 172 and advanced to higher ratings, eventually owning Learjets, then Cessna Citation jets that allowed him to travel worldwide. He made his final flight as pilot-in-command in 2011 after nearly 55 years of flying.