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Longtime Textron customer and Special Olympics supporter Coca-Cola Consolidated, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the US, will be the first aircraft to land at Orlando Executive airport as part of the eighth Special Olympics Airlift. As such, the company's Citation XLS+ will receive the special Dove 1 call sign.
“It's an enormous honour for Coca-Cola Consolidated to be named Dove 1 in the Special Olympics Airlift,” says senior vice president of public affairs, communications and sustainability Kimberly Kuo. “Our involvement with the Airlift supports our purpose and values, which include a deep commitment to serving others. We feel blessed to be leading this convoy of aircraft to deliver Special Olympics athletes to the USA Games.”
This will be the fourth Airlift for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company. Coca-Cola Consolidated first participated in the 2006 event with its new Cessna Citation Excel business jet. This year, athletes will fly in the company's Cessna Citation XLS+.
The Airlift is a signature community event organised and coordinated by Textron Aviation with assistance from owners and operators, industry partners and employee volunteers.
Textron works closely with the FAA to create a roster of precise aircraft departure times from airports around the country and to identify specific, prioritised airways for Airlift participants. Each aircraft receives a special Dove call sign that will afford priority treatment in the air traffic system so the massive Airlift stays on schedule on both transport days, namely Saturday, 4 June, delivering the athletes to Orlando and Sunday, 12 June, returning the athletes to their home bases.
“An aircraft will take off or land approximately every two minutes during the Airlift. It is truly a team effort that starts with the generosity of our Citation, Beechcraft and Hawker customers,” says senior vice president of sales and flight operations Lannie O'Bannion. “Coca-Cola Consolidated is an ideal customer to serve as Dove 1, representing the nearly 175 aircraft owners who have stepped up to give these Special Olympics athletes an unforgettable lift to the USA Games. It is a company that has a long history of supporting Special Olympics athletes across its territories, in addition to being a faithful supporter of the Airlift throughout the years.”
Textron and its customers are set to transport more than 1,000 athletes and coaches from across the nation for the event. Nearly 175 Cessna Citation, Beechcraft King Air, Beechcraft Premier, Beechjet and Hawker aircraft owners and operators have registered to donate the use of their aircraft, pilots and fuel to help in this massive effort.