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Special Olympics Airlift brings hundreds of athletes to Orlando for 2022 Games

The Special Olympics Airlift took off this weekend with aircraft flying from 28 states to bring more than 800 athletes and coaches to Orlando, Florida, for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.As the teams departed from the aircraft at Orlando Executive Airport (ORL), they were met by the legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, an honorary chair of the event."This is a very important competition for these Special Olympics athletes," said Manning. "It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and the Airlift allows them to come here, arrive ready to perform, and give their all so hopefully they can all bring home a medal."Over 120 Cessna Citation, Beechjet, Hawker, and Beechcraft King Air turboprop aircraft owners donated the use of their aircraft, pilots, and fuel to transport the teams to the Games. A Special Olympics Airlift aircraft took off or landed every two minutes during the event.The aircraft participating, referred to as "Doves" by the FAA while flying in the Airlift, are given priority in the National Airspace System during the flight.This event marks the eighth time that Textron Aviation has brought together aircraft for the Special Olympics Airlift. Since the first airlift in 1987, more than 10,000 athletes and coaches from across the United States have been flown into the Special Olympics World Games and USA Games."The ultimate mission of the Special Olympics Airlift is to make sure all the athletes who are invited to participate at the national level are able to get to the games," said Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation. "Travel is the biggest expense for Special Olympics programs, and for many athletes, this is their first time leaving their home state."The Doves will return to Orlando Executive Airport on Saturday, June 12, to bring the teams home after a week of competition."Our athletes are at the core of everything we do; they are our inspiration," said Joe Dzaluk, president and CEO of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. "Our goal is that they have the most amazing, life-changing experience at the 2022 USA Games."
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