The Gathering of Eagles program is an annual aviation event that traces its origin back to 1980, when retired Brigadier General Paul Tibbets was invited to visit the ACSC, Maxwell Air Force Base Montgomery, Alabama to share some of his experiences with the students. This visit became the genesis for the Gathering of Eagles program. Each year the ACSC graduating class selects a group of aviation professionals both military and civilian to be recognized for their accomplishments and service, (Eagles). The ACSC then commissions a painting of the "Eagles" and their aircraft. For the past 26 years artist Jay Ashurst has been the vision and talent behind the incredible "Gathering of Eagles" art series. The original painting is reprinted as limited edition lithographs and each is hand signed by the "Eagles" for that year. The lithographs are then sold to help raise money for a scholarship that the ACSC awards to one outstanding cadet each year. During the week long event the "Eagles" are brought in to share their stories first hand with the ACSC class. These interview sessions provide a unique opportunity for ACSC students to hear inspiring stories from some of aviation history's most revered heroes. Each day's interviews are followed by a catered lunch in the base Officers' Club where the event staff gets to enjoy one on one conversation with the "Eagles". After a brief break in the afternoon the ACSC students, event staff, and "Eagles" reconvene for a casual BBQ event held in one of the hangars on base this year. ACSC students are encouraged to bring their spouses and children where they can join in the festivities with the "Eagles". This year the GOE staff arranged to bring in several aircraft for a static display setup right outside the hangar doors. Several of the ACSC students also pooled their talents to form a band that provided outstanding entertainment throughout the evening activities.
This years "Eagles" were; Eugene Kranz (Apollo 13), Bruce Crandall (Medal of Honor), Joe Jackson (Medal of Honor), David Thatcher (Doolittle Raider), Charles McGee (Tuskeegee Airmen), Betty Strohfus (WASP), John Young (Astronaut), Augusto Bedacarratz (Argentine Pilot), Regina Aune (Vietnam Flight Nurse), John Alison (WWII Ace), Wayne Fisk (Vietnam Pararescue), James Hobson (Special Ops Pioneer), Lloyd Newton (Vietnam/T-Bird Pilot), and Jack Broughton (Vietnam Pilot/Author).
If you are interested in finding out more about the Gathering of Eagles program, or about purchasing one of the GOE prints please follow this link to the ACSC Gathering of Eagles, website.