Airlift Flies 800 Special Olympics Athletes, Coaches

 - June 6, 2022, 11:01 AM
Coaches and athletes disembark from a Cessna Citation X on Saturday at Orlando Executive Airport in Florida to attend the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. Their free transportation was arranged through Textron Aviation's Special Olympics Airlift. (Photo: Barry Ambrose/AIN)

More than 120 Textron Aviation turbine aircraft departed from 28 states on Saturday to transport athletes and their coaches to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida. Beechcraft, Cessna Citation, and Hawker aircraft participating in the Special Olympics Airlift landed and took off every three minutes for about eight hours that day at Orlando Executive Airport.

This marked the eighth time Textron Aviation has organized the airlift, which since 1987 has flown more than 10,000 athletes and coaches to and from the games. Under the program, Textron Aviation owners and operators donate the use of their aircraft, as well as pilots and fuel, to transport athletes and their coaches. More than 800 passengers were flown to this year’s games, which conclude on June 12.

“This is an extraordinary experience for everyone involved and provides an impressive visual of the power of general aviation as well as the philanthropic side of the aviation industry,” said Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper. “The ultimate mission of the Special Olympics Airlift is to make sure all the athletes who are invited to participate at the national level are able to get to the Games. Travel is the biggest expense for Special Olympics programs, and for many athletes this is their first time leaving their home state.”