More than 120 Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker aircraft are gearing up for one of the most remarkable events in all of general aviation, the Special Olympics Airlift. The event, which before Textron Aviation’s acquisition of Beechcraft was a Cessna-branded event, is today one that reaches out to operators of all the aircraft produced under the Textron Aviation banner. The flights to the event, to be held in Orlando, Florida, will originate from all over the United States. The first of the airlift planes that have a “Dove” callsign will begin arriving at Orlando Executive Airport Saturday, June 4, 2022. The athletes will return from the competition in a repeat of the airlift on June 12, 2022.
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. This year, plans are for the planes to fly more than 800 athletes to the games, which begin on Sunday, June 5.
For the owners and operators of the aircraft that participate, the rewards, they say, are great, as the flights invariably give participants the opportunity to meet and get to know some very special human beings, many of whom are champion athletes and rightfully proud of their accomplishments on the field of play.