Two ways aviation is helping Olympians reach their goals

planes and olympics 2021
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Flying not an Olympic Event

Special Olympics benefit from Textron and Peyton Manning

Cargo Freighters are flying the Equestrian 4 legged Competitors

We all are likely to be closely watching the 2021 (nee 2020) Olympics in Tokyo plus may have followed the Special Olympics. Flying has never been an official sports[1] in any of the competition (776 BC through 393 AD, 1896 to present day with some notable exceptions. Recent news reveals aviation’s role in the background, but significant.

First, an interesting story about Peyton Manning, the Cessna Special Olympics Airlift.

Second, a story about The Herd Shot round the World via Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F to the 2020/2021 Equestrian Competition, which starts July 21.

Peyton Manning To Chair 2022 Special Olympics Airlift

by Chad Trautvetter

– June 15, 2021, 12:02 PM

Special Olympics Airlift









Five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning will be the honorary chairman of Textron Aviation’s 2022 Special Olympics Airlift. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

Legendary quarterback Peyton Manning has signed on as the honorary chair of Textron Aviation’s 2022 Special Olympics Airlift. In the role, he will be encouraging Cessna Citation, Beechcraft King Air, Beechcraft Premier, Beechjet, and Hawker owners and operators to participate in the airlift, which will transport thousands of athletes and coaches to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games next June in Orlando, Florida.

Special Olympics Cessna fleet


“The Special Olympics Airlift is an incredible opportunity for the aviation community to give athletes from across the country a memorable experience while getting to the games,” said Manning. “Textron’s support of the airlift is a great example of their commitment to making a real difference.”

Since the first Special Olympics Airlift in 1987, nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches have been transported to Special Olympics World Games and USA Games by aircraft owners across the U.S. With this eighth Airlift, Textron Aviation aims to recruit more than 200 aircraft owners to help transport a portion of the more than 4,000 athletes and coaches invited to Orlando. Inbound flights will be on Saturday, June 4, 2022, with return flights to athletes’ home states on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

“Special Olympics athletes embody grit, perseverance, and greatness, so no one could be better suited to serve as the 2022 honorary chairperson for our Special Olympics Airlift than PeytonPeyton Manning hospital Manning,” said Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper. “Many dedicated athletes have worked hard to earn their spot at the USA Games in Orlando,and we knew the airlift would fit perfectly with Peyton’s experience both on the field as a legendary athlete, but also off the field as an ambassador, advocate, and fundraiser for many worthy causes.”





More than 300 horses traveled to the Olympics on special flights complete with passports, in-flight meals, and mandatory COVID quarantines

OLympics Jumper

When it comes to travel for members of the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian teams, nobody’s horsing around.

Approximately 325 horses have made their way across the world for the upcoming Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, and they’re traveling in style. A whopping 19 airplanes and 185 truck journeys were commissioned to transport the top-flight equines to their own Olympic village in Japan.

Horse boarding

A horse boards a truck for transport to an airplane. FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi/Handout via REUTERS






to ensure their comfort, the horses were afforded luxuries such as business class accommodations, in-flight meals, snacks, and grooming. They even have their own passports.

But these four-legged Olympians and Paralympians also had to endure the hardships of traveling in the age of COVID-19; mandatory quarantines, veterinary visits, and health certificates were all necessary prerequisites to get to the games.

“To see these horses arriving at Haneda Airport is a truly historic occasion, and what makes it even more special is that these are not simply horses, they are Olympic horses,” Administrator ofhorse passport, vaccinations and papers Tokyo International Airport Takahashi Koji said per The Chronicle of the Horse. “It’s a really big night for the airport, and particularly for the cargo team, and we see it as one of the major milestones of the final countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”


Horse passports are necessary for air travel. FEI/Leanjo de Koster/Handout via REUTERS

Here’s the rundown of how a bulk of the horses got to Tokyo, according to The Chronicle of the Horse.

Liege Horse InnOf the 325 total equine passengers, 247 flew through Liège, Belgium, where the airport has a special hotel for horses. After 60 days of stringent health monitoring and a seven-day quarantine, the horses boarded an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F — the most environmentally friendly freighter in circulation — for one of eight chartered flights to Haneda Airport.


Between food, water, equipment, and the horses themselves — which weigh somewhere between 1,100 and 1,400 pounds each on average — flying these clip-cloppers through the skies is a rather tall task. Fortunately for those responsible for getting the horses to Tokyo, the Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F is a mammoth of a plane that can hold nearly 236,000 pounds of cargo per trip.


The horses flew via Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F planes. AP Photo/Daniel Roland

The first jet that took off from Liège was tasked with transporting nearly 3,000 pounds of horse equipment — saddles, blankets, grooming kits, wheelbarrows, and the like — as well as 26,000 pounds of feed, 1,440 liters of water, and 36 equine passengers.

The horses were divided among 19 flying stables — business class for horses — and kept cool at roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A groom team and a veterinarian flew alongside the animals to provide comfort and care throughout the journey. And in addition to their custom meals, the equines were offered an assortment of in-flight snacks that included bananas, carrots, and hay.

Here’s what the journey looked like for some of the American horses:

Flight segments

After a brief pit-stop in Dubai to refuel and change crews, the herd arrived in Japan. And once they touched down at Haneda Airport, the horses were led off the plane and onto one of 11 air-conditioned trucks. The fleet then drove northwest to Baji Koen, the home of the Tokyo 2020 Equestrian Park.

Equestrian events for this summer’s games begin July 23 with dressage horse inspections. Eventing starts nearly a week later on Thursday, July 29, while the jumping competition won’t start until August.

[1] Considered to have been a demonstration sport — a sporting event held during the Olympics, but not technically considered an official sport of the games — hot air ballooning enthusiasts saw their hopes of becoming official rise and fall all during the 1900 Olympic Games. All in all, 61 men and 3 women competed in ballooning, which consisted of 18 events. Judges marked contestants on various points, like distance, duration and elevation.

Hot air ballooning hasn’t been the only odd aerial sport of note at the games. Kite flying debuted in 1900, while canon shooting and pigeon shooting were given a shot in the same year. Spectators would have done well to seek cover when these guys got going.

Tokyo Oly Equestrian site


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