Nearly 200 people turned out for the event at the Wichita Water Center, including dozens of members of the ALR hoping to honor Greg "E-bay" Hansen, who they said loved bald eagles and what they symbolized.
"It was awesome to just see him fly off, it was awesome," said Laura Aronstein, who came to watch the release.
"It went real well, my throat swelled up a little bit because I was not expecting a turnout like this," said Ken Lockwood, with the Eagle Valley Raptor Center.
People watched as Trapper John, a recently recovered bald eagle took flight, heading back to his wild home. The eagle was injured by a steel trap last month and has since been housed at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center. The rare public event wasn't just about the eagle's release.
"I also wanted to honor somebody today, and a special group," said Lockwood.
It was a tribute to the ALR and one of their members in particular, Greg Hansen, who died last year after a long battle with cancer. Hansen was a co-founder of the Patriot Guard.
"This was the best tribute they could have done for my husband. He loved his eagles," said Georgianna Hansen, who's Greg Hasen's wife.
"It was a neat way to have a memorial," said Aronstein.
"He was a huge eagle lover," said Lockwood.
Hansen visited the raptor center last year as part of a surprise from his fellow riders.
"Having the eagle as a symbol of what Greg "E-bay" Hansen stood for, could not be a better choice," said Lockwood.
Before the release, Lockwood gave a special presentation to the public about birds of prey. Ken Lockwood rehabilitates more than 100 birds of prey each year.
Lockwood said he just hopes the day gave people a new respect for the creatures he works so hard to save.
"Be respectful. "That's our national symbol. Make sure that's there for the next generation to see," said Lockwood.
While Lockwood releases nearly all of the birds he rehabilitates, those that can't be sent back into the wild are used for special educational programs.
"The thing about birds of prey, especially eagles, is that they have an incredibly strong will to live," said Lockwood.
It was a send off family and friends of Hansen said would have fit him perfectly.
"I actually think he did see it today, I do," said Georgianna.
"To honor Greg, his wife and his brother, mission accomplished," said Lockwood.
We've posted video of the full release ceremony as well. If you'd like to learn more about the Eagle Valley Raptor Center, click on the link below.