July 26, 2010
Cessna’s aircraft customers make a special delivery of some very special Olympians.
It’s one of the larger peace time airlifts in the world, as more than 160 Kansas built Citation business jets transport hundreds of athletes and coaches throughout the country.
The Special Olympians have been up in Nebraska all week for their games. Now it's time to bring them home."
800 Special Olympians and their coaches laden with medals leaving Lincoln, Nebraska for their homes in 37 different states.
"Thank you for having us. You're great hosts. I love you."
These athletes have enjoyed a week of victories on soccer fields, in the gym and on ball fields. The head of the Special Olympics USA National Games says the citation airlift is the only way for them to have the chance to complete.
"And it really speaks volumes for what business aviation is all about."
Business aviation has taken its lumps the past couple of years, having been slammed by some politicians. This airlift actually started in the mid 1980s, being carried out every four years.
"As we can see today these are caring people who have businesses that are employing people and they're giving back to their local communities and to a bigger effort here at the Special Olympics." Cessna Aircraft Chairman, President, CEO Jack Pelton said.
Owners donate the use of their jets, fuel and associated expenses to get athletes to an from the games.
"This is really the fun part for the athletes. They've participated in all of their events this week and getting to fly home with all their medals. Can you imagine the stories they have to tell from the week long of competition?" Cessna Spokeswoman, Angela Baldwin said.
“And team Louisiana we're awesome."
Ashley Arceneaux and Jarvis Landry say they enjoyed the experience.
"Yea we had a good time," Arceneaux said.
"It was amazing. Swimming rocks!" Landry said.
Each plane was assigned a dove number call sign identifying themselves to air traffic controllers.
"Right now we've got 25 departures and 20 arrivals coming in to Lincoln," Baldwin said.
The F.A.A increased their presence in Lincoln, with so many planes coming and going fron there. There’s a lot to monitor so everyone is safe.
“We're also keeping a pretty close eye on the weather that's building out here." Andy Atchley (Federal Aviation Administration) said.
"Okay guys are you ready to go home? Ready to go home."
The athletes seemed to enjoy their enjoy flights to and from the games as much as anything.
“But this is my first time flying a private plane,” Arceneaux said. “And I'm saying private planes are awesome."
"Thanks for all your hard work. Have an excellent weekend."
Andre Grosvenor pilots the new Citation 4 jet. His Wichita company aviation dynamix delivers Wichita, built planes around the world. And this flight to New Orleans carries special passengers.