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Cessna Seeks More Citation Operators for Special Olympics Airlift

November 13, 2013

Cessna Aircraft Company aims to enlist 175 owners and operators of its Citation business jets to take part next spring in the company’s seventh Citation Special Olympics Airlift (CSOA).

So far, Cessna has recruited 26 companies to volunteer for the airlift, which will transport 800 or more athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the nation to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. The games will consist of 16 Olympic-style competitions held from June 14 to 21 in the Princeton/Mercer County area of New Jersey. On the days when athletes, coaches and sponsors arrive and depart the games, volunteered Citations will land or take off every two minutes for 10 hours at Trenton Mercer Airport (TTN).

“The Cessna airlift is a great way for business aviation companies to give back to their communities,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We encourage our Members to participate.”

The first CSOA took place in 1987 and involved more than 130 Citations carrying nearly 1,000 athletes to and from South Bend, IN. The most recent airlift occurred in 2010 and involved 161 Citations transporting 832 athletes and coaches to Lincoln, NE. On average, CSOA volunteers transport one-third of the participating athletes to the games.

“Over the past six airlifts, Citation owners have contributed millions of dollars to the Special Olympics USA Games by way of donations of time, fuel and resources,” said Rhonda Fullerton, Cessna’s CSOA director. “It is gratifying to organize this campaign, being able to provide a cost savings to the games while at the same time giving 1,000 athletes and coaches the flight of a lifetime, and to be part of a week they will never forget.”¬†

Bob Gobrecht, president of Special Olympics North America, said the airlift is crucial to the Special Olympics organization, which covers game-related expenses for participating athletes.

“By not having to expend funds for commercial transportation, our programs can devote every possible cent toward sending as many athletes as possible to the 2014 USA Games,” he said.

Gobrecht added that many Special Olympics athletes have never flown on a plane, so “to have the personalized attention and support of Citation owners and pilots provides tremendous comfort and assistance to our delegations.”

Citation operators can register for the airlift by contacting Fullerton at (316) 517-LIFT or airlift@cessna.textron.com. They maybe also register online via the Cessna Special Olympics Airlift website.