CEDAR RAPIDS — Scores of people showed up Saturday at The Eastern Iowa Airport to put their muscles to the test as part of a backbreaking, plane-pulling fundraiser for Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.
Pulling for Honor, now in its third year, is the biggest one-day fundraiser for the organization, which sends veterans to see war memorials in Washington, D.C.
About 20 teams competed Saturday to see who could pull a FedEx 757 jet 12 feet in the shortest amount of time.
Each team of 25 members had to donate $2,500 to Honor Flight to participate in the plane pull.
The Swole Cats took first place for the second straight year, with a time of 4.78 seconds.
David Frazier, the Swole Cats team captain, dressed up as Captain America for the occasion. Other members of the team also donned superhero costumes.
“We thought it’s a great way to get to kids, and we’re all kind of big kids at heart,” Frazier said.
All the Swole Cats are either alumni, students or coaches at Benton Community High School in Van Horne.
Frazier said they have participated in other events and pulled trucks and sleds “for training,” but the Honor Flight event is special.
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“We have four veterans on the team this year,” he said, including Frazier himself. “ ... It’s really kind of close to us.”
The Honor Flight puts together four trips out of Cedar Rapids every year, each one costing $83,000.
Pam Hinman, director of marketing and communications for the airport, said Saturday she wasn’t yet sure how much money the Pulling for Honor event had raised, but she said the fundraising goal of $100,000 was not met.
“We have other sponsors that participated, too, so I haven’t done a tally,” Hinman said.
The 2016 and 2017 plane pulls together raised almost $100,000.
Foth Engineering, Signature Flight Support and the Corridor Business Journal were among the sponsors that helped put the event together. The jet was provided by FedEx, as was the special clock used to time each pull.
The event also featured aircraft displays and free flights for kids provided by Chapter 33 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
New to the event this year was a kids pull, where children had the chance to participate in a plane pull of their own. About 30 kids ages 5 to 13 donated $20 each to enter the event.
For participants such as Frazier, the best part was simply being able to help the Honor Flight program.
“A lot of us have family members that have benefited from the Honor Flight, and so it’s a great way that we can give back,” he said.
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