This week, Lincoln, Nebraska, is hosting the Special Olympics USA National Games. They will feature more than 3,000 athletes from all over America, athletes who have faced difficult challenges on their road to these games. But, one challenge these stars won't need to worry about is getting to the games and getting home.
That's because Cessna, with the support of our Federal Aviation Administration, is sponsoring the sixth Special Olympics airlift. And this year's Honorary Chairman of the Cessna Airlift is actor and pilot Harrison Ford.
The first part of this airlift--last Saturday--went off without a hitch. About every two minutes for more than ten straight hours, a Cessna Citation business jet carrying Special Olympics athletes from 28 different states touched down at Lincoln Municipal Airport. At the end of the day, these volunteer pilots had flown in more than 800 athletes.
And, for this ten-hour period, with 165 business jets landing, Lincoln was the world's busiest airport.
Now, that kind of sustained flurry of activity needs more than just pilots. It requires two years of preparation. It requires 165 donated airplanes and the fuel to fly them. It requires volunteers to help athletes get from the planes to the terminal.
And, it requires a special temporary, mobile control tower. That's where the FAA comes in.
The FAA also provided extra staffing in the main air traffic control tower, plus the staff manning the mobile tower--dubbed "Dove Control" for the "Dove" call sign being used by the airlift planes.
I wish the many athletes competing this week great success, and I thank the 8,000 volunteers, the 1,000 coaches, and the 15,000 supportive family members and friends for making these games possible.
And next Saturday, when the games have ended, I hope all the pilots and controllers of the massive airlift out of Lincoln enjoy another safe and smooth day.