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Textron kicks off Special Olympics airlift

Textron Aviation has put out the call for all Cessna Citation, Beechcraft King Air and Premier, Beechjet, and Hawker owners and operators to help transport more than 4,000 athletes and coaches to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. The event takes place in Orlando, Florida.

Textron Aviation has conducted several Special Olympics Airlifts since 1987, encouraging operators to participate in public benefit flying. Photo by Chris Rose.

This will be the eighth time that Textron has conducted a Special Olympics Airlift. Since the first such airlift in 1987, nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches from across the United States have been flown to the Special Olympics. This time, Textron hopes to recruit 228 aircraft owners by February 28, 2022, to help transport a portion of the 4,000 athletes and coaches invited for the event. In addition to the pilots and aircraft volunteering, fuel and in-kind support are also being requested.

Textron says that owners and operators in every state are needed to donate the use of their aircraft.

The Special Olympics World Games and USA Games will begin on June 5, 2022 (athletes arrive the day before). Participants would be returned to their home bases on June 12, 2022.

“This signature event is a unique opportunity that enables everyone, from our employees to our customers, to ignite our shared passion for lifting others up and supporting our communities by giving the athletes the joy of a once-in-a-lifetime aviation experience,” said Ron Draper, Textron Aviation president and CEO.

“Travelling to Orlando for the games may be the first time some of our athletes ever leave their hometown, let alone fly on an airplane,” said Tony Wyllie, regional president, Special Olympics North America. “The travel experience provided by Textron Aviation and its customers will be the ultimate bookends for one unforgettable week.”

For more information, or to register as a pilot/operator participant, visit Textron's airlift page.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying, Jet

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