As EAA celebrated flying more than 1.5 million young people over the past 17 years as part of the Young Eagles program, the organization looks to the future of the aerospace industry.
Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman and president, says that the highest priority for the future of aviation continues to be introducing young people to aviation.
Poberezny, alongside Sporty's Pilot Shop founder Hal Shevers, Rod Palmer, general aviation manager for ConocoPhillips and Young Eagles program co-chairman Jeff Skiles, emphasized that as more young people get involved, the companies who rely on aviation for their future directly benefit.
In September, EAA passed the torch of the chairmanship of the Young Eagles from actor and pilot Harrison Ford to Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Skiles, the cockpit crew of US Airways 1549 that safely landed their crippled Airbus A320 in the Hudson river in January.
"Young Eagles is the most successful youth aviation education program in history, but its beauty is its simplicity: a pilot introducing aviation to a young person on a one-to-one basis," said Poberezny.
The 1.5 millionth hour was passed on 3 October by 16-year-old pilot Reno Elliot at the Lincoln air show in California. The Young Eagles program was launched in 1992.