It was a visibly moved Harrison Ford who accepted this year’s Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership yesterday morning at the conclusion of the NBAA 2013 opening session. While more commonly known for roles such as Indiana Jones and Han Solo in Star Wars, the veteran actor in this case was recognized for his continuing role as a philanthropist.
“Harrison Ford is an enthusiastic and compassionate representative for general aviation,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “In addition to utilizing a diverse number of aircraft types in support of his career and business endeavors, he also channels his passion for flight into demonstrating the vital humanitarian role that general aviation provides every day, in places all around the world.”
A pilot since 1996, Ford has regularly flown missions in support of numerous aviation charities including the Cessna Special Olympics (of which he served as chairman) and the Corporate Angel Network. He has also flown missions searching for missing hikers. In 2010 he was part of the general aviation relief effort to Haiti after the island nation’s capital was devastated by an earthquake. Ford also served as the chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles programs for five years, helping introduce countless young people to aviation, including many flights that he conducted in his own aircraft.
Established in 2006, the Al Ueltschi award is presented to organizations and individuals that use general aviation aircraft effectively for humanitarian purposes. “I am humbled and not just a little embarrassed by this award and this attention,” said Ford upon receiving the award. “I have done what I have been able to do and after receiving this high honor I promise to redouble my efforts to be of more use, to try and make myself available for more of the good missions that we can provide service to people in need, and to bring credit and proper understanding to the role that general aviation plays in all of our community.”