American Eagle Foundation
We are a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to protecting the majestic Bald Eagle, the USA's National Symbol, and its habitat by supporting and conducting eagle and environmental recovery and education programs.

Trained Free-Flying Eagle

About "Challenger"
Challenger is a non-releasable Bald Eagle cared for by the non-profit American Eagle Foundation. Since 1991, this majestic bird has been a free-flying educational ambassador for his recovering species in the wild. He was blown from his Louisiana nest in a storm at five weeks of age — was rescued and hand-raised by well-meaning people. As a result, he became human-imprinted for life.

Challenger Flies at Texas Ranger Game

Members of the Texas Rangers line up on the first base line during introductions as Challenger, a bald eagle, flies down to his keeper on the mound prior to the Rangers home-opener.

Named in honor of the lost space shuttle crew, Challenger has performed free-flights during the USA's National Anthem at hundreds of events coast to coast — raising substantial public awareness for the Bald Eagle protection cause. He is the first Bald Eagle in American history trained to free-fly into stadiums and arenas during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. He has helped educate millions of people about the need to protect the USA's National Bird.

Al Cecere and Challenger

AEF President Al Louis Cecere and Challenger, traveling educational
ambassadors for 19 years

Once on the brink of extinction, the Bald Eagle has made a successful come-back to the USA's lands, waterways and skies. In June 2007, our nation's living symbol of freedom was removed from Endangered Species Act protection. Its dramatic recovery is an American success story attained by caring people working together. It will now be up to every United States citizen to keep this precious national treasure flying strong and free for future generations.

The words and music of the "When Challenger Flies" song (the video sound track) were composed and performed by James Rogers, entertainer and songwriter (



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Favorite Eagle"
Children's Storybook


AEF/Challenger Tee "Challenger"


AEF Mug with 2012 Eaglet"AEF Mug with
2012 Eaglet"


Plush stuffed eagle "Challenger" Plush
Stuffed Eagle



Commemorative Coins United States Mint
Bald Eagle Commemorative
Coin Set- Featuring
Challenger's Image

Proof clad half dollar

Eagle Message By Dolly Parton

Dolly, Al, Challenger

Entertainment legend Dolly Parton is pictured with American Eagle Foundation President Al Cecere and bald eagle Challenger. The trio gathered at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to mark American Eagle Day which takes place annually on June 20th.

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Eagle images and emblems have graced United States money since the founding of our nation. However, "Challenger", an internationally known Bald Eagle ambassador with nearly two decades of educational public service, has become the first bird or animal in American history to have both its personal likeness and name featured on a legal tender half-dollar coin.

It's a special honor and distinction that many other iconic animals - such as Lassie, Secretariat, Flipper, Gentle Ben, Rin Tin Tin, Ling Ling or Shamu - have not had, according to the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation (, caretaker of the trained 19-year-old free-flying eagle and headquartered at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

CoinsThis rare first in U.S. coinage history gives both serious and novice numismatic enthusiasts a worthy and compelling reason to purchase one of the 750,000 limited edition Challenger coins before they sell out, according to the conservation group.

"This beautiful collectable coin makes a wonderful and lasting gift for our children and grandchildren," AEF President Al Cecere said. "And a portion of the sales price from each coin will help protect the Bald Eagle, a precious national treasure, for generations to come."

The recently minted Challenger eagle commemorative coin was only available for purchase from the United States Mint until December 12, 2008.

It is now available for purchase from the American Eagle Foundation website.

The reverse (back) side of the coin features Challenger's portrait and name, while the obverse (front) side has the image of two downy sibling eaglets snuggled against an unhatched egg.

This attractive half-dollar clad coin (copper/nickel) can be purchased for $10.95 (proof) and $8.95 (uncirculated), with $3 from each unit sold benefiting a special American Eagle Fund. Each coin comes with a limited-edition certificate.

The reverse side of the Silver dollar bears the original United States "Great Seal" of 1782 designed by Secretary of the Continental Congress Charles Thomson (used for about 60 years), which has never before appeared on a legal tender U.S. coin. The reverse side of the Gold five-dollar piece bears the present day Great Seal - the first time that it has ever been used on a legal tender U.S. gold coin. It's also the first time that the current Great Seal has been used as a central stand-alone design on any U.S. coin (the Kennedy Half-Dollar includes the "Presidential Seal"). More than half of these special gold and silver eagle coins have already been sold.

"We estimate that over $7 million has already been raised from these commemoratives to aid the future care of Bald Eagles," Cecere said. "But our goal is to generate $10 million for these great birds with a complete sellout of the coins."

Since the early 1990s, the renowned Bald Eagle Challenger has achieved widespread fame for his patriotic and inspirational educational flight demonstrations at national sporting events and ceremonies usually during the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner". The non-releasable bird was blown from a wild nest at five weeks of age, hand-raised by humans, and could not survive in the wild on his own.

Physically perfect, but highly human socialized, Challenger became the first of his species to perform educational flights at high-profile public events and places such as the White House, U.S. Capitol Building, Pentagon, World Series, Pro-Bowl All-Star Game, Para-Olympic Games, Men's Final Four, Fiesta Bowl and BSC National Championship

At the invitation of the U.S. Department of Interior, Challenger participated in the official Bald Eagle "delisting" ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 2007.

The new commemorative coins celebrate the recovery of the Bald Eagle to America's lands, waterways and skies, as well as the 35th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. The coins were created by the United States Mint after passage of the American Bald Eagle Recovery & National Emblem Commemorative Coin Act, which was unanimously approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2004.

"We hope that interest in our cause from civic organizations, companies and individual Americans will continue to gain momentum until every coin is sold," notes Cecere.

Please purchase your coins today, and help us keep America's eagles flying strong and free forever.

For more info contact the American Eagle Foundation.

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