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Teams to pull plane at Central Coast AirFest in support of Special Olympics

Teams to pull plane at Central Coast AirFest in support of Special Olympics

  • Updated

Special Olympics of Northern Santa Barbara County on Tuesday unveiled a 30,000-pound fighter jet that will be used for the first “plane pull” at next month’s Central Coast AirFest.

The plane pull brings participants together to see which team can pull an airplane 12 feet the fastest.

Team members and donors take pledges to take part, with the funds going to support several hundred local Special Olympics athletes.

On Tuesday, the organization showed off the F-4 Phantom fighter jet and put together a team to pull the plane for the first time.

A group of several city rangers, Noontime Kiwanis Club members and AirFest committee members slipped on gloves before grabbing hold of a rope tied to the aircraft and pulling.

After a couple of seconds, the group developed enough momentum to get the plane moving.

Tony Quintanar, a Santa Maria city ranger, said pulling the plane took considerable effort.

“It’s a little difficult,” he said.

The city rangers would likely field a team for the plane pull next month, Quintanar said.

Other local agencies competing include the District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department and Santa Maria Police Department.

“We’ve got about 10 teams participating at the moment,” said Rudy Gutierrez, Special Olympics torch run coordinator for the area.

The plane pull will take place Oct. 12, the first day of the second annual Central Coast AirFest at the Santa Maria Public Airport.

“We’ve done this for several years down in Long Beach for Law Enforcement Torch Run as a Special Olympics fundraiser,” Gutierrez said. “But we thought it’d be cool to bring it down to the Central Coast.”

The goal during the inaugural event is to raise $30,000 to support the roughly 300 athletes who participate in Special Olympics in the North County area.

“The money goes back and it supports our athletes — helps them with the best uniforms, equipment, competition traveling,” Gutierrez said.

“We saw what happened over in Lompoc recently, but the community came and helped us out," he said referring to the Aug. 9 theft of Special Olympics softball equipment. "We’re always relying on support from community members and events like this.”

Those wishing to support the fundraiser can sign up as a team or an individual or simply pledge to sponsor another team. 

Teams, made up of 15 people, need to commit a minimum of $900. Individuals sign up for a minimum $50 pledge, then fill in for teams that are short of the 15 members. 

To register for the plane pull or learn more, visit

Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed


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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.

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The Central Coast AirFest is returning next month, and organizers will be counting on hundreds of volunteers to make sure this year's event runs smoothly. “The show doesn’t happen without volunteers,” said Esmeralda Mendoza, a member of the AirFest planning committee.

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