Don't miss your chance to be a Dove

Special Olympics Airlift still needs large cabin Citation and Hawker jets

Registration closes Monday, Feb. 28, to participate in the 2022 Special Olympics Airlift - that means you have just a few days left to donate the use of your aircraft, pilots and fuel to help in this massive effort to transport thousands of athletes and coaches from across the nation to Orlando, Florida, this June.

While the games are four months away, we need to let the athletes know if we can help them get to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. Travel is the largest expense for Special Olympics state programs, and the Airlift helps offset these costs by allowing athletes to travel to the games hassle-free with their gear and teammates.

With nearly 170 registrants to date, we have had an incredible response from the aviation community. However, at this time, we are still in need of large cabin midsize and super-midsize CITATION and HAWKER jets.

"We're hoping for a strong final push," said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. "The more aircraft we register, the more athletes we can help transport to the Games."

Since the first Airlift in 1987, nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches from across the United States have been transported to Special Olympics World Games and USA Games. The Airlift will take athletes and coaches to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando on Saturday, June 4, and return them to their home bases on Sunday, June 12. Each participating aircraft will receive a “Dove” call sign that will help air traffic control expedite them through the air space.

Join NBAA & GAMA in supporting the Special Olympics Airlift

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) industry associations are long-time supporters of the Special Olympics Airlift and are calling on their members to get involved.

"For all of us who are blessed to be part of business aviation, I think we recognize that we have something special," said Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA. "There's a real need to give back to the community, to help others. There are an infinite number of ways to do it, and with the Special Olympics Airlift, you are part of a symphony, a group of airplanes all arriving with one mission: Get the athletes to the Games."

Watch Ed describe what it's like to be part of the Airlift.

Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA, has also been on-site at the Airlift for many years to witness the importance of the event.

"Having participated in several past airlifts, I can attest to how rewarding participation in this intricately choreographed philanthropic effort is, particularly when you see the enthusiasm of the Special Olympic athletes, many of whom have never been in a general aviation aircraft," he said.

Athlete spotlight: Andrew Weatherly

For Andrew Weatherly, being part of Special Olympics is not about the destination, it's about the journey. For him, it represents determination, positivity and kinship. Andrew credits Special Olympics with helping him be more social and having the confidence to create his artwork. In fact, he helped design the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games logo (you can see some of his artwork at

Andrew got his start in Special Olympics through equestrian events at the age of eight, and has also recently competed in tennis at the Games. His goal is to someday win a gold medal.

Learn more about the USA Games and the athletes who will compete there at

Want to learn more?

Here are previous newsletter articles and videos that might help you make the decision to become a Dove: