A Chance to See Harrison Ford

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Dayton Celebration Events

Although reporters sometimes are a bit blasé about some of the dignitaries they write about, there are always a few celebrities that are just a little out of the ordinary.

Recently, this reporter had the opportunity to attend a function (courtesy of my husband) that took place in our hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Harrison Ford, famous for acting in films that include Star Wars, the Indiana Jones series and Air Force One, was featured as the master of ceremonies for the National Aviation Hall of Fame 2003 Pioneers of Flight Homecoming.

Considering the event was one that should not be missed, I was eager to go and even more eager to see how close I could get to the actor. Should I have the good fortune to actually speak to the man, what could I say that would be different from the other mundane uttering of all those gorgeous babes lined up to see him?

Doing my homework, I read in the local paper about his passion for flying his own airplanes, which include a restored de Havilland Beaver DHC-C, a Bonanza B36TC, a Gulfstream G1V-SP, a Cessna Grand Caravan and a Bell 407 helicopter.

It was reported that Ford, 61, took flying lessons when he was a student at Ripon College in Wisconsin. At that point, before his star status had been established, he found that flying was too expensive and he was forced to stop until he was in his 50’s and could afford the luxury of time and money necessary to pursue the experience.

On the evening preceding the Harrison Ford Dinner, we met a gentleman who boasted that he could arrange a meeting between Ford and myself. Promises, promises. There were 2,200 guests attending the prestigious Ford Dinner. But nonetheless, I believed the gentleman. His own wife was attending the gala just so that she could meet Ford.

On the night of the dinner, we managed to find the gentleman and his wife and I am sure that they never got any closer than we did. Harrison Ford had a magnificent security system. The president of the United States could not have been more closely guarded. Sitting with some other Ford Fans, I was invited to join a group of ladies that vowed to tackle Ford as a group and subdue him.

He had previously mentioned that he did not think Calista Flockhart would be able to attend, so I knew I would not get to speak to her to tell her to eat, as instructed by our son, Dan. As it turned out, the closest I got to Harrison Ford was to take his photo as he spoke at the podium.

Actually the dinner was not a total loss in spite of my inability to speak to Harrison Ford. The purpose of the black tie event was to salute the 178 men and women enshrined in the Hall of Fame in honor of the Centennial of Powered Flight. Ford solemnly led us through the memories evoked by such names as Ohio Senator John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, James A. Lovell Jr. and Walter M. Schirra Jr., all former astronauts; as well as naval aviator James B. Stockdale.

Altogether, two dozen enshrinees were introduced to the Aviation Hall of Fame that night, with a short history given on each one. Included in the ceremony was a toast to Wilbur and Orville Wright by two members of the Wright family, Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright. So what if I never got close to Harrison Ford. ~ By: Mary Lou Stimson

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