Cessnas deliver Special Olympians to games

June 17, 2014

AOPA's N4GA is a proud member of the Citation Airlift, which will bring more than $50 million into the state of New Jersey in the event’s weeklong run.

More than 100 Cessna aircraft delivered hundreds of athletes to the start of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey on June 14.

When the first Cessna aircraft started arriving at 8:30 a.m., the waiting crowd at Trenton Mercer County Airport was ready. Music was blasting, cheerleaders were cheering, and greeters were greeting. If the arriving athletes were overwhelmed by their flights on the jets that had delivered them there, they didn’t have time to catch their breath. Scores of volunteers, family, friends, and coaches greeted them with open arms.

It was a lot to take in for the six athletes and their coaches who flew in on N4GA, AOPA’s Cessna Citation CJ3, which had picked them up early that morning at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va. On the hour-long flight to Trenton, the athletes and their coaches took in their first flight in a jet. For Olympian Chris Snodgrass it was his first flight ever and he loved it. He gave it a high five and said he’s looking forward to his return flight home on June 21 after the games end. His sport is swimming.

This is the seventh Citation Airlift and, with the merger of the Hawker and Beechcraft lines, more than just Citation pilots volunteered their time and aircraft. Some 700 of the 3,500 U.S. athletes were transported in the airlift, once called the largest peacetime airlift in the world. The athletes will compete in 16 individual and team sports—from swimming to bowling to baseball—this week.

Aircraft traveled to 28 locations in 22 states to pick up the athletes and their coaches. AOPA’s N4GA arrived at 9:45 a.m.; aircraft landed every 90 seconds all day long. “This is an inspiring display of aircraft,’ said Kriya Shortt, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Textron Aviation.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker | AOPA Senior Features Editor

AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.