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NBAA Continues Tradition of Supporting Special Olympics Airlift

June 16, 2014

About 100 business airplanes transported Special Olympics athletes from around the country to New Jersey on June 14 as part of the 7th Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift.

The National Special Olympics takes place in Mercer County, NJ, this year. The airlift supporting the games is centered at Trenton Mercer Airport (TTN), where over the weekend, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen was on hand as a volunteer supporting the event.

For more than 10 hours on June 14, a business aircraft arrived or took off at TTN every three or four minutes, carrying more than 700 Special Olympians to the games. The process will be repeated in reverse on June 21 as the athletes, their coaches and sponsors return home.

“It’s all possible because of business aircraft owners that donate their planes, fuel and crews, who volunteer to fly the missions,” Bolen said. “You get a true sense of individuals and the industry giving back.”

NBAA Members have played an important role in the airlift, Bolen said. In fact, in 2006, NBAA recognized the airlift with the association’s inaugural NBAA Albert Ueltschi Humanitarian Award, in recognition of the leadership and spirit of service demonstrated through the event.

“The more you give, the more you receive,” Bolen said. “It’s beautiful to see the planes land, the doors open and the athletes come streaming out. They’re so excited to be at the Olympics, and to have had the support of the people and companies in the business aviation community. The tears, the laughter, the hugs – the memories never fade.”

Bolen noted that, for the first time, aircraft other than Citations, including King Airs, are taking part in the airlift, given the acquisition of Beechcraft by Textron.

To view the progress of the airlift's return flights on June 21, follow hashtag #CSOA14 on Twitter and other social media sites.