Feb. 8, 2004: To kick off the NFL’s 54th Pro Bowl All-Star game on a soul-stirring, patriotic note, a non-releasable Bald Eagle named Challenger flew into Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. The veteran performer is billed as the first national bird in United States history trained to provide that glorious soaring act for our country.
Challenger the Bald Eagle
CHALLENGER the bald eagle is released from the edge of the Wright Brothers National Monument in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on the eve of the centenary of man’s first powered flight.
The Capitol Building is one of the most picturesque structures in a town full of monuments, but last week the scene was more awe-inspiring than normal when a bald eagle flew over the landmark as part of a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
PIGEON FORGE, TN – Prior to Game 3 of the 2003 World Series between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees, the American Eagle Foundation’s trained celebrity Bald Eagle, Challenger, will grace the skies over Pro-Player stadium during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. It will be the fifth year that the majestic bird has been featured in a pre-game fly-over at Major League Baseball’s premier championship contest.
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.–The non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF), headquartered at Dollywood, announced approval of Tennessee State legislation (Bill No. 1303) for the development of a vehicle license plate honoring the Bald Eagle, our nation’s Freedom symbol.
Today, singer/actress Dolly Parton, the Foundation’s largest benefactor, and its trained non-releasable Bald Eagle “Challenger” participated in the official public opening of a new Bald Eagle Refuge exhibit at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The opening ceremony was led by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, Ms. Parton, and National Zoo Director Lucy Spelman. Other government and conservation officials were also present.
WASHINGTON – Two bald eagles from Pigeon Forge were carried to congressional offices Monday and Tuesday to build good will for a big increase in federal funding for the states’ fish and wildlife protection programs.
Washington, D.C. – When the subject of federal grants for State wildlife programs comes up in the new United States Congress, there will be a very visible and effective lobbyist from Tennessee on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building. His name is Challenger, and he’s an American Bald Eagle cared for by the non-profit American Eagle Foundation, headquartered at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood entertainment park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
CHICAGO — ‘Challenger’ – a 15-year old Bald Eagle – soared through the skies over Wrigley Field today during the Oak Ridge Boys’ singing of the National Anthem to raise awareness of the new Illinois Military Family Relief Fund.
NEW YORK — America’s eagle ambassador is taking to the skies over America’s greatest baseball parks, kicking off a new season of ‘America’s pastime’ with patriotic flair. ‘Challenger,’ the flying symbol of the American Eagle Foundation is in New York to fly over Yankee stadium tomorrow, April 8th, to open the team’s season and to honor America.
Super slugger Barry Bonds enjoys a casual pre-game visit by American Eagle Foundation President Al Louis Cecere and Challenger, the celebrity Bald Eagle, in the Giants locker room at Pacific Bell Park.
Challenger, the Bald Eagle, may be soaring to new heights of super-stardom during the coming year. If the non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) gets its wish, the thirteen year-old free flying wonder will soon be featured in children’s books, a line of toys, and even on the silver screen. If those dreams come true, 2002 and beyond could be very prosperous for the U.S.A.’s freedom symbol.
It turns out that Challenger is a very busy bird. The 12-year-old bald eagle, whose spectacular fly-over punctuated the national anthem for the first two games of this World Series, spent most of yesterday as a passenger on George Steinbrenner’s private jet.
The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Contributions to the American Eagle Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
The AEF's tax identification number is 58-1652023.
Background photo ©Byron Jorjorian