Rancho Santa Fe pilot Gary Bobileff will be part of a new “We All Fly” exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Bobileff will be recognized for his participation in the Citation Special Olympics Airlift, in which pilots volunteer their jets and time to safely transport Special Olympic athletes free of charge to the USA National Games every four years.
Bobileff has made the flights three times over a period of 12 years, starting in 2006 when the national event first began in Des Moines, Iowa. That year, 235 Citations transported 1,500 athletes and coaches.
In 2010 and 2014, Bobileff’s Dove 105 and other Cessna Textron Aviation jets took flights of athletes to Lincoln, Neb., and Trenton, New Jersey, taking off from Long Beach.
“For most of the athletes, it’s their first time on a private aircraft and that to them is amazing,” Bobileff said.“To get them to their destination for free and have a great time while they’re at it is wonderful for everybody.”
Bobileff said the return flights are often even more fun and full of joy as every Special Olympics athlete comes home happy and proud with a medal for their efforts in competition.
The Citation Special Olympics Airlift will be featured in the new “Thomas W. Haas We All Fly” exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum. The exhibit celebrates how the availability of different types of aircraft made it possible for a wide range of people to fly. Visitors will be able to check out the many different forms of aviation from aerobatics and air racing to gliders and ultralights, as well as business aviation, agriculture and firefighting.
Boblieff was honored that a photo from his Dove flight was chosen to appear in the part of the display that highlights aviation’s humanitarian uses.
“The best part is that it will be on show for over 20 years,” Bobileff said of the gallery that will be located on the first floor of the museum.
Through aviation, Bobileff gives back in many ways. In addition to his Special Olympics Airlift participation, Bobileff also flies wounded warriors through the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC). The VAC provides free air transportation for wounded combat veterans and their families through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.
Bobileff has said “Sure, I’ll pick you up” to veterans in need for the last 10 years, to save wounded warriors from having to dealing with commercial airports and flights, to give them comfortable transport and “to just give them the honor and respect they deserve.”