Kemmons Wilson Companies and the Citation Special Olympics Airlift

Kemmons Wilson's pioneering vision in the hospitality industry changed the way Americans travel and the way we do business.

Since 1948, KWC has owned, operated or partnered with 400 companies. Today, KWC represents a diverse collection of businesses, mostly in the areas of resort timesharing, hospitality, real estate, financial services, aviation and insurance.

KWC purchased its first business jet in 1994, the 50th CitationJet to roll off the production line, and has participated in each Citation Special Olympics Airlift since then.

Bob Wilson, Kemmons Wilson's son, is also an integral part of the airlift. "The airlift gives our company a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in a way that really touches my heart. My wife is a pediatric physical therapist and I grew up with a cousin who had polio, so I've been around kids with special needs all my life," said Bob.

In 1995 and 1999, KWC's CitationJet took athletes to Hartford, Conn., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., respectively. The company donated its Citation Excel for the 2006 Airlift to Des Moines, Iowa.

KWC currently has three business jets in its fleet: a Citation CJ2, a Citation Excel and a Citation Mustang. They have agreed to donate two of their Citations to transport athletes from Memphis to Lincoln, Neb. During the past two Airlifts and again this year, KWC has also hosted a departure point at one of its Wilson Air Services, which has fixed-base operations in Memphis, Charlotte and Houston.

Bob and his brother Spence fly the company's aircraft, and KWC also employs a full-time pilot, Charlie Huggins. All three are Air Force trained.

"All three of us have flown in big airlifts in our military careers," Bob said, "and from a pilot standpoint, Cessna makes it so doggone easy. They are ready if something comes up, but we've never had a problem."

"It's a great atmosphere when you land at the Special Olympics. You open the door and the volunteers from Cessna take care of everything. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to stay another couple of hours to just watch the other Citations come in, meet the different crews and be a part of the athletes' experience."

Bob Wilson - Following in His Father's Footsteps