Wheels Up, the second-largest operator Part 135/91K operator in the U.S., has joined with Textron Aviation to repaint one of its signature blue Beechcraft King Air 350is orange to support Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month.
The Orange Plane is part of the ongoing Wheels Up Cares and Meals Up initiatives. Meals Up was created in March 2020 to help support the growing levels of food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis.
According to a press release, the effort has already raised and inspired the equivalent of more than 47 million meals for Feeding America, with participation from Wheels Up ambassadors and friends including Russell Wilson, Ciara, Tom Brady, JJ Watt, Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez, and Joey Logano.
Private Jet Card Comparisons earlier this year donated over 100,000 meals to the initiative.
The Wheels Up Orange Plane is a flying symbol to raise awareness for food insecurity and in honor of Feeding America and the frontline workers at the 200 member food banks across the nation and, like all Wheels Up Cares aircraft, will be a permanent part of the Wheels Up fleet. The plane represents continued dedication from the Wheels Up team to combatting hunger in America as more than 50 million people could face hunger in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recognition of Hunger Action Month, tonight the control towers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and the pylons at LAX will light up orange to help bring attention to the issue of hunger, taking note of the extenuating circumstances food banks are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparel brand Sportiqe has also joined the cause and donated 50,000 meals to take action against hunger.
Wheels Up, Textron partner to support Feeding America
“We kicked off the Meals Up initiative back in March with one purpose – to help feed people – and we knew then that the next Wheels Up Cares plane would be orange in support of fighting food insecurity and to raise awareness for Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month,” said Kenny Dichter, Founder and CEO of Wheels Up.
He added, “We are grateful to Ron Draper and Textron Aviation for once again donating the design and livery of the Orange Plane to shine a light on this important cause. We are excited that Textron Aviation has joined the Meals Up movement and we are energized by their generous donation of 500,000 meals.”
“Wheels Up has been a steadfast partner to Feeding America. We thank them for their continued contributions and for helping us rally the nation to end hunger in our communities,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “Hunger Action Month is just that – a time for us all to act – and provide meals for the millions of Americans who need our help, especially during these unprecedented times.”
“Textron Aviation is honored to be partnering with Kenny Dichter and Wheels Up, once again, in their Wheels Up Cares initiative,” said Ron Draper, President & CEO of Textron Aviation.
He noted, “Now more than ever, it is imperative that we come together to support the many people affected by this pandemic. In addition to the donation of the paint to the aircraft, we are proud to be providing a monetary gift to the Meals Up effort, which will provide more than 500,000 meals to feed members of our communities across the nation.”
Along with the Orange Plane to honor Feeding America, Wheels Up Cares includes one-of-a-kind Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft recognizing the following causes: the Camouflage Plane for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the Red Plane for the American Heart Association and Simon’s Heart, the Teal Plane for Ovarian Cancer Awareness, and the Pink Plane for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Dubin Breast Center of the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai.
In the past 18 months, Wheels Up has been busy on the business front as well. It acquired TMC Jets, Delta Private Jets, and Gama Aviation Signature. The latter brought its owned-fleet of King Air, Citation Excel/XLS, and Citation X aircraft in-house. The group now operates around 300 aircraft, making it second to NetJets in U.S. fleet size.