Harrison Ford to Receive Howard Hughes Memorial Award

The Aero Club of Southern California will honor the actor, pilot, and passionate aviation advocate in June.

Harrison Ford is a licensed pilot of both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. [Courtesy: Experimental Aircraft Association]

The Aero Club of Southern California announced Monday that award-winning actor Harrison Ford will be the recipient of the 43rd annual Howard Hughes Memorial Award. The honor will be presented to Ford during a ceremony on June 10 at the California Science Center Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavor Pavillon in Los Angeles. 

“It is an honor to celebrate Harrison Ford, the illustrious actor, pilot, and passionate aviation advocate for his volunteer work with Young Eagles, humanitarian and aircraft rescue efforts,” George Butts, president of Aero Club of Southern California, said in a statement.

The Howard Hughes Memorial Award honors leaders who advanced the fields of aviation or aerospace technology. Other winners of the award include Neil Armstrong and General Chuck Yeager. 

Ford and Aviation

Ford is a licensed pilot of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. He became interested in becoming a pilot in the 1960s while flying in a Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer. Due to the cost—$15 an hour—Ford had to stop his training early on. 

In the 1990s, after Ford’s acting career took off, he was able to purchase a used Gulfstream II. His Gulfstream pilot, Terry Bender, began to give Ford flight lessons to continue his training. 

Ford served as the program chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles  program for five years, where he shared his love of flying with children. During his time as chairman, Ford flew more than 280 children in his DHC-2 Beaver. 

In 2010, he led an Operation Smile airlift for Haiti earthquake victims. Ford also acts as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Teton County, Wyoming, and as an honorary board member of the humanitarian aviation organization, Wings of Hope. Ford is also vice chair of Conservation International.

He’s also made lasting contributions in Washington, D.C., advocating for pilots’ rights. 

“The Aero Club’s mission is to honor the giants of aviation and aerospace while providing generous scholarships to students pursuing an education in either field,” Butts said in the same statement. “We look forward to bringing industry professionals and the public together to recognize Mr. Ford this June and to celebrate the visibility he brings to the aviation and aerospace industries through his aviation accomplishments and iconic film career.”

Harrison Ford’s name will be added to the Howard Hughes Memorial trophy, joining the previous 42 award winners. 

Based in Texas, Ashley is the former Marketing Manager at FLYING and focuses deeply on training and education. She graduated from the Baylor Institute for Air Science with a Bachelor's in Aviation Science and holds an MBA specializing in Marketing. She is an also instrument rated private pilot and licensed FAA dispatcher.

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