Aviation SHOULD earn a Gold Medal for its Special Olympics Airlift

Citation with SO Gold Medal
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Thousands of Special Athletes want to go to the quadrennial USA Olympics

Few can afford the transporation 

Since 1987 Textron has led an Airlift to fly them to the Games

Deserves a Gold Medal, but the Press doesn’t see such beneficial use

As noted below, for the 45th year, Textron has led an informal organization to support the Special Olympics USA competition. This effort constitutes the largest peacetime airlift in the world. Thousands of special athletes and their coaches, who otherwise could not afford the trip to the athletic competition, are able to participate. But for this aerial act of kindness, many would not make it to the games, would not meet their peers, enjoy their sports and take home well-earned medals.

All involved deserve GOLD MEDALS for the eleemosynary excellence.

Air transportation has aspects of an attractive nuisance—flight is exhilarating but some see it as luxurious. Journalists know, based on marketing research,  that articles criticizing aviation will attract a lot of readership. This journalistic predilection also diminishes the likelihood that a story about good news involving business aviation will be written.  

Bolen, Draper,Bunce and Baker

NBAA team at SOA










Coca-Cola Consolidated Named Dove 1 for the 2022 Special Olympics Airlift

Kelsey with her medals


Longtime customer and Special Olympics supporter Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc., the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, will be the first aircraft to land at theSOA symbol Orlando Executive Airport on Saturday, June 4, as part of the eighth Special Olympics Airlift. As the first aircraft to land, Coca-Cola Consolidated will receive the special “Dove 1” call sign.

Coca Cola box

Hear from Coca-Cola Consolidated and one of the Special Olympics athletes that will arrive in Orlando on Dove 1.




Peyton Manning Named 2022 Special Olympics Airlift Honorary Chairperson

Peyton greeting SO athletesWinning a Super Bowl is a team effort. And so is flying athletes from all over the country to participate in the legendary Special Olympics USA Games. That’s why we’re happy to have Peyton Manning as our honorary chairperson.


What is the Special Olympics Airlift?

SOA opsTextron Aviation presents the Special Olympics Airlift, which is a monumental event where CESSNA CITATION, BEECHCRAFT KING AIR, BEECHCRAFT PREMIER, BEECHCRAFT BEECHJET and HAWKER aircraft owners and operators donate the use of their aircraft, fuel and pilots to transport Special Olympics athletes and coaches to the Special Olympics USA Games. The 2022 Airlift will be the eighth that Textron Aviation has coordinated, and with the help of our generous customers, industry partners and volunteers, we are able to transport thousands of athletes and their coaches from across the country to this event. In fact, a Textron Aviation aircraft will take off or land every two minutes as a part of this effort.

USA Games poster



Flying magazine—

SOA ramp at ORL


…Starting first thing in the morning on June 4, those jets (and King Airs) will land at Orlando Executive Airport (KORL) at a rate of up to one every two minutes. The games attract roughly 4,000 competitors for 20 different sports, this year to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

And on June 12, after the games have concluded, the airlift fleet arrives again, in sequence, to take the athletes home.



airlift and Peyton

“I know a thing or two about competition, and it was always important to arrive ready for the sport I was playing,” said Manning. “The Airlift allows them to come here, arrive ready to perform, to give their all, so hopefully they can all bring home a medal.”

The event marks the largest peacetime airlift in the world, according to Stephanie Harder, the Special Olympics Airlift co-chair.

Textron employees served as official greeters on the runway.

With noisemakers and hoots, they celebrated every group that stepped on the tarmac as if each was Orlando’s favorite.

“We get to set the tone for their arrival into the games,” said Kriya Shortt, a Textron executive.

The operation also served a more practical purpose.

While many athletes will arrive by car or commercial flight, for others, the drive is too far and a plane ticket too expensive.

Transportation to the USA Games is the most expensive part of participating for every delegation. Having our customers donate the use of their aircraft to get athletes from their home state to the games is a significant savings and investment in the athlete’s experience,” said Stephanie Harder of Textron Aviation. “We all know that commercial air travel right now is difficult from a scheduling and from a safety perspective.”

Textron Team

The Special Olympics Airlift has been organized by Cessna, now a part of Textron Aviation, since the first event in 1987. During that time, the company says that pilots volunteering in the airlift have transported more than 10,000 athletes.


Textron Cessna, Hawker and Beechcraft





Owners and operators in every state are needed to donate the use of the following aircraft:

  • Cessna Citation
  • Beechcraft King Air
  • Beechcraft Premier
  • Beechjet
  • Hawker

In addition to aircraft, pilots, fuel and in-kind support are requested for the airlift efforts. While the 2022 USA Games are located in the Southeast, thousands of athletes and coaches will travel from all over the U.S. as well as the Caribbean and Puerto Rico to attend.


Atlantic AviationCitation Jet Pilots Association

Federal Aviation Administration

Greater Orlando Airport Authority

Special Olympics InternationalSpecial Olympics U.S. Games


Aero-MachAlert Tubing Fabricators, Inc.

Atlas GroupAurora Casting & Engineering, Inc.

B&B Airparts, Inc.Buffco EngineeringCPG AerospaceGarmin

Gogo Business Aviation

Heads Up Technologies, Inc.


Lee Air, Inc.

Mid Continent Controls

Millennium Machine & Tool, Inc.

PIC Wire & Cable, Inc.

Pratt & Whitney Canada

Safran Electrical and Power

Townsend Leather Co.

TTI, Inc.TW Metals, LLC

Williams International


AccuWeatherAircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)AMSAFEAmwayAviation International News (AIN)Aviation WeekEGraf-XFlying Magazine

JohnsonvilleOTW SafetyPrime AppearanceSBM Management ServicesSCHROTH Safety ProductsTextron Specialized VehiclesTronAirTwin & Turbine Magazine

Registered Participants (partial)

  • Africair, Inc.
  • Ageless Mens Health LLC
  • Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA)
  • Airship One
  • Allegis Corporation
  • ARB Consulting / C&S Sales
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Aspen Glen Dressage
  • Bear Air, LLC
  • Bentley Development Co. Inc.
  • BorgWarner, Inc.
  • Brett & Caroline Lunger
  • Brigadoon Transport
  • Brothers Bar & Grills
  • Brown & Brown, Inc.
  • CCBCC Operations, LLC
  • CD Aviation
  • CMGC, Inc
  • Cook Sales, Inc.
  • CVS Caremark Corporation
  • Discovery Point Franchising
  • Don Bruce
  • Donald Gulbrandsen
  • Duke Energy
  • Edison Chouest Offshore
  • Elbit Systems of America
  • Epoch Properties, Inc.
  • Epps Aviation, Inc.
  • Fagen, Inc.
  • Fred Beans Ford, Inc.
  • Garmin International
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • George A Burnett & Associates
  • Great Southern Bank
  • Gregory Poole Equipment Company
  • Hanover Foods Corp.
  • HCA – The Healthcare Company
  • Hughes General Contractors
  • IMP Inc.
  • Indium Corporation
  • Intrepid Aviation LLC
  • JEM Aviation
  • JMA Energy Company, L.L.C.
  • John Hinshaw
  • Kemmons Wilson Companies
  • Kindle Ford Lincoln Chrysler Jeep Dodge
  • Lone Star Communications, Inc.
  • Lord Corporation
  • Luhr Bros., Inc
  • M.S. Management Services, Inc.
  • Mark Aloe
  • McCoy Corporation
  • Mild Air LLC
  • Moki Corp
  • Moo Too 1, Inc.
  • Murphy USA Inc.
  • NextEra Energy, Inc.
  • OA LLC
  • OnFlight, Inc.
  • Pacific Flight Services LLC
  • Parker Hannifin Corporation
  • Phillips Edison &Company
  • Philmar LLC
  • POET Ethanol Products
  • PPAL, Inc.
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada
  • Redbird Flight Simulations, Inc.
  • Regulatory Compliance Associates Inc.
  • Robertson Racing
  • Rogers Group Inc
  • RSF Jets, LLC
  • Russell Thorstenberg
  • SBM Site Services
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.
  • Sierra Land Group, Inc.
  • SJ Collins Enterprises
  • Speedbird, Inc
  • Street Aviation LLC
  • Systems and Methods, Inc
  • Teradata Corp
  • Textron Inc.
  • Thompson Tractor Company, Inc.
  • Tom Wood Aviation, Inc.
  • Tom Wood, Inc.
  • Vortexx Pressure Washers
  • Vulcan Threaded Products, Inc.
  • Wheels Up
  • Wheels Up
  • Whelen Engineering Co.
  • Williams International
  • Wing & Rotor Transportation Holdings LLC
  • Wing & Rotor Transportation Holdings LLC
  • Wintermute Aviation LLC
  • Zachry Holdings, Inc.

SO medals

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1 Comment on "Aviation SHOULD earn a Gold Medal for its Special Olympics Airlift"

  1. see more about the Airlift of Doves https://youtu.be/jDJnSPFt7TY

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