More than 250 Textron Aviation volunteers, elected officials and others turned out Saturday to send off 17 Kansas Special Olympic athletes and their coaches to the week-long USA Games in New Jersey.
The athletes took part in the Citation Special Olympics Airlift, in which Citation owners and operators donate their airplanes, pilots and fuel to transport athletes and coaches to the event.
For the first time in its 27-year history, the Airlift included Beechcraft owners along with Cessna Citation owners.
In all, more than 100 owners and operators from around the country transported roughly 700 athletes and their coaches to the competition, according to Textron officials.
The planes will return to Trenton-Mercer Airport in New Jersey on June 21 to take the athletes home after the event.
The airlift is sponsored and managed by Cessna Aircraft, now a division of Textron Aviation.
Since it began in 1987, the event has transported nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches to the Special Olympics games from around the U.S..