It was another morning of celebration at Heathrow Terminal 5 today (September 20), as ParalympicsGB arrived home from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on British Airways flight “BA2016”.
Arriving home in style, the 300 athletes and support staff travelled on “victoRIOus” – the same gold-nosed aircraft that brought Team GB home last month.
As the athletes disembarked flight “BA2016” a number of medallists, including Sarah Storey, Will Bayley, Lee Pearson and Hannah Cockroft, proudly posed for a photo with their medals.
Upon entering arrivals, athletes were greeted to an emotional and rapturous reception with a VIP zone for “friends and family” welcoming them home, including Paralympic superfan Stephen Mangan.
Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “We are honoured to be part of such a special moment of national pride and celebration. It has been a privilege to fly the athletes home from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“I’d also like thank everyone across the airline who worked tirelessly for months to deliver a truly memorable homecoming that Team GB and ParalympicsGB so rightly deserve.”
Fans and athletes have been using #BAckSupercharged on social media to share their messages of celebration – the hashtag also features on the aircraft livery.
Tim Hollingsworth, British Paralympic Association CEO, said: “The performance of ParalympicsGB at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games has surpassed our expectations. It is right that our athletes return to the UK proud of their achievements and are celebrated by our partner British Airways, flying them home in style. It is the perfect ending to an incredible two weeks.”
On her 11 hour 15 minute journey from Rio de Janeiro, “victoRIOus” carried 585 items of equipment, some of which included; archery tackle, racing chairs, tennis chairs, throwing frames, leg bags, prosthetic bags, running blades, fencing foils, paddle tubes, solo bikes and tandem bikes. The heaviest piece of kit is a hand bike weighing 32kg.
Extra water, champagne, snacks and treats were loaded on board and passengers were treated to a three-course menu and full English breakfast before landing. Some of the dishes available to choose from include; Gaucho-style beef tenderloin with kale and tomato, Grilled salmon and ginger-infused noodle salad, chicken in a white wine sauce, thai fish curry and chicken with polenta au gratin.
Over 1,300 hours of films, top TV shows and audio programmes were available to enjoy on the flight, including a ‘swimming with dolphins’ documentary with Paralympic athlete Ellie Simmonds, classic sporting movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ and a number of new movies including; The Jungle Book, Dad’s Army, Hail Caesar, Me Before You, Love & Friendship and The Nice Guys.
Source: British Airways.