Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc. named “Dove 1” for Textron Aviation’s Special Olympics Airlift

Kelsey, athlete on Dove 1
Kelsey, athlete on Dove 1

Textron Aviation announced that longtime customer and Special Olympics supporter Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc., the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, will be the first aircraft to land at the Orlando Executive Airport on Saturday, June 4, as part of the eighth Special Olympics Airlift. As the first aircraft to land, Coca-Cola Consolidated will receive the special “Dove 1” call sign.

The Airlift is a signature community event organized and coordinated by Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, with assistance from owners and operators, industry partners and employee volunteers. 

Textron Aviation works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create a roster of precise aircraft departure times from airports around the country and to identify specific, prioritized 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 – Saturday, June 4, delivering the athletes to Orlando, and Sunday, June 12, 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,” said Lannie O’Bannion, senior vice president of Sales & Flight Operations, Textron Aviation. “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.” 

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+. 

“It’s an enormous honor for Coca-Cola Consolidated to be named Dove 1 in the Special Olympics Airlift,” said Kimberly Kuo, senior vice president of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc. “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.” 

About the Special Olympics Airlift

Textron Aviation and its customers are set to transport more than 1,000 athletes and coaches from across the nation to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida. 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 to take athletes and coaches to Orlando on Saturday, June 4, and return them to their home bases on Sunday, June 12. 

Travel is the largest expense for Special Olympics Programs, and the Airlift helps offset these costs by allowing athletes to travel to the games hassle-free with their gear and teammates. 

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.