KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Challenger, the famed bald eagle, paid a visit to WATE 6 On Your Side this week just in time for the July 4th weekend.

The famous bald eagle lives at the American Eagle Foundation in Sevier County and is the first bald eagle in history who’s trained to free fly into stadiums.

For 25 years, this majestic bird soared high above the 50-yard line. Now, he’s about to make history again.

Challenger retired from free-flighted appearances in 2019, the year he turned 30, but he still works his beautiful wings at home with the American Eagle Foundation and continues to represent the nation at events around the country.

Bailee Ridenbaugh is his avian care specialist at the American Eagle Foundation. “Right now, you can see he’s really fluffy so that means he’s super content and happy right now.”

Maybe Challenger can sense that he’s about to make history again, about to fly to Branson, Missouri Friday, July 1st, to receive a high honor: Lee Greenwood’s Patriot Award.

American Eagle Foundation Executive Director Jessica Hall said, “Challenger’s been the ambassador for his species for over 30 years and to see him honored in this way is so humbling, and the team could not be more grateful.”

It’s an award previously only presented to people.

It’s well-deserved for this graceful bird, a living Symbol of Freedom, who has inspired millions.

Challenger is also being immortalized on Saturday, July 2, at the new Helping a Hero customized home for a veteran in Missouri, built in Challenger’s honor.

A bronze statue of Challenger will be placed outside the home.

Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, famed singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood and baseball legend Roger Clemens will lead the presentations in Branson.

More Positively Tennessee stories from Lori Tucker

Positively Tennessee airs each Friday at 6 p.m. on WATE 6. Stories can be seen on air or online after they air.