The 2016 Plane Pull benefiting the Special Olympics of North Carolina (SONC) is a wrap, and we’re proud to have been a part of it! On April 30, over 70 five-person teams competed against each another to physically pull one of our Embraer 145s! As you can imagine, that’s no small feat, but these teams pulled it off – and raised over $110,00 for SONC in the process!
This year marked the 16th year for the annual Plane Pull competition, which began as a unique and fun way to raise money for Special Olympics. “Numerous Special Olympics states host a Plane Pull,” says Special Olympics North Carolina President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne, “but originally it started with 20-person teams and huge jets. In North Carolina, the format changed to 5-person teams and regional jets, since it allowed for more teams to enter be a part of this important and fun event.”
To participate, each team must raise at least $800, with the proceeds going towards providing training and Special Olympics competition opportunities for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, athletes are never charged a fee to participate in any of these year-round training and competition offered by Special Olympics.
In addition to the annual festivities, the 2016 SONC Plane Pull also incorporated several new features. The event began with “opening ceremonies,” where members of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle club rode in carrying the Special Olympics Flame Of Hope, as well as the United States and North Carolina flags. “Four SONC athletes also got the honor of riding on the motorcycles with the law enforcement officers,” further explains Keith L. Fishburne. “Then, an athlete delivered a short invocation, another athlete gave a short speech sharing Special Olympics’ impact on their life, and another athlete declare the Plane Pull underway.” From there, the teams hit the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and got “pulling!”
The competition is a race to see who can pull the airplane 25 feet in the least amount of time. All teams competed in the first round, with the top 20 advancing on to the second round. The Final Round consists of the “Fast 5” from Round 2 competing to determine the Overall Champions. This year, the Bertie Enforcers of the Bertie County Correctional Institution upset the two-time defending champions, The Smokey Bears of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, with a final pull of 7.85 seconds.
Raleigh-Durham Chief Pilot Jonathan Jones expressed his gratitude in being a part of such a tremendous event, saying, “The Special Olympics is an amazing organization that affects the lives of so many people throughout North Carolina and the rest of the world. We are a part of the community here and appreciate the opportunity to be involved with The Special Olympics and help over 38,000 North Carolina athletes. What a great way to spend the day, pulling planes and making a difference.”
We’re so proud to have been a part of helping a wonderful event benefiting such a wonderful organization. We can’t wait for the 2017 SONC Plane Pull!