Dulles Day Brings Fun and Games to the Airport

Published: September 10, 2013

New 5K Run Will Kick Off Daylong Event on Sept. 14  
Benefiting Special Olympics Virginia



With a 5K on the Runway newly added this year, the Saturday, Sept. 14, Dulles Day Plane Pull and Family Festival at Washington Dulles International Airport is set to bring more activities, events and family fun, as well as a greater charitable contribution to community organizations. The run begins at 7:30 a.m. for registered participants, and the Dulles Day festivities, including the Plane Pull event, are open to the public from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., rain or shine.

High-resolution images available on request

Now in its 21st year, Dulles Day is an annual community festival celebrating the airport and including live music, airplane displays, tours of the active runways, kids play areas with bounce houses and a dunk tank, and plenty of food and refreshments available throughout the 1.2-million-square-foot area, a space larger than 20 football fields. The highlight of the event each year is the Plane Pull. Begun in 1992 as the first event of its kind in the country, during the Plane Pull teams of 25 people compete to see who can use a rope to pull an 82-ton FedEx cargo jet 12 feet in the shortest period of time.

“With the plane weighing 82 tons, and 25 people pulling, that’s over 3 tons per person,” said Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Officer Ian Lauderdale, who will be competing in the Plane Pull as part of the Sgt. Sullivan Memorial Plane Pull Team. “It’s definitely not easy. But when that plane finally starts rolling and you get it across the finish line, it’s an incredible feeling.”

Proceeds from the events go to benefit local charities, including Special Olympics Virginia. And, although admission and parking to Dulles Day remain free of charge, opportunities will be available onsite for patrons to make cash donations to benefit Special Olympics Virginia as well.

The event has already had a significant community impact, raising more than $1.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia. And, although admission and parking to Dulles Day remain free of charge, opportunities will be available onsite for patrons to make cash donations to benefit Special Olympics Virginia as well.

The event has already had a significant community impact, raising more than $1.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia since its inception. Last year’s Dulles Day crowd size exceeded 12,000 and donations topped $164,000. The addition of the 5K and its full slate of 2,000 registered runners, plus 70 enthusiastic Plane Pull teams raising $1,250 each, is expected to add tens of thousands of dollars more to this year’s total.

“Dulles Day brings out the best of Dulles for the public to see and experience first-hand,” said Chris Browne, vice president and Dulles Airport manager. “We are encouraged by the great response from everyone who signed up to be part of our first-ever 5K on the Runway. From the 5K and the Plane Pull, to the kids play areas and the aircraft display, there is something for aviation fans of all ages to enjoy at this year’s Dulles Day.”

Registration is closed for the 5K run with all 2,000 slots filled. Registered participants will run a certified 5K course along the airport’s center runway complex. The top male and female runners will win two round-trip tickets from United Airlines to anywhere in the continental U.S. that United flies. Due to airfield security concerns, the course will not be open to spectators. Media interested in coverage will be escorted to the site. With the other three runways open to aircraft, normal flight activity will not be affected.

Highlights of Dulles Day 2013 include:

  • 70 teams for the Plane Pull event, including defending champion Chesapeake, Va., Sheriff’s Officecompeting to pull a jet plane 12 feet in the shortest time
  • More than 40 current and vintage aircraft on display, including a privately owned Harrier jet scheduled to land at about 12:30 p.m. in public view
  • Classic car show with about 50 cars anticipated for display
  • Pizza-eating contest scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
  • Airfield tours aboard the famous Dulles Mobile Lounges
  • Kids’ play area with bounce houses, truck pull and dunk-a-cop tank
  • “Trackless Train” running back and forth to carry attendees along the length of the site
  • Equipment displays by Airports Authority Police, Fire and Rescue and Maintenance
  • Police K-9 demonstrations scheduled for 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • A food court with food and beverages available for purchase

Click here to view an event site map.

Dulles Day patrons are reminded not to bring backpacks, coolers or pets (except service animals). Admission and parking are free; click here for an event parking map. Follow electronic “Dulles Day Parking” signs to parking lots with free shuttle buses. Parking for disabled patrons will be available closer to the event entrance with no shuttle bus needed – follow electronic signs to “disabled and volunteer” parking. A permit must be displayed upon entering the disabled and volunteer lot.

Washington Dulles International Airport celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 and served more than 22 million passengers, including 93 percent of international air traffic in the Washington, D.C. region. The airport has four runways on 12,000 acres of land, with 487 weekly departures to 133 domestic and international destinations. The region’s Metrorail system will be directly connected to Dulles when an extension of the Silver Line is completed in 2018. Learn more about Dulles at www.mwaa.com/dulles.

To support Special Olympics Virginia, visit planepull.com or call 703-359-4301. 

For media questions in advance or onsite, contact Holly Claytor at 804-370-7916hclaytor@specialolympicsva.org or Rob Yingling at 703-417-8744 Rob.Yingling@mwaa.com.


The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority was established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia to manage and operate Washington’s Ronald Reagan National and Dulles International airports, which together serve more than 40 million passengers a year. The Airports Authority also operates and maintains the Dulles Airport Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road and manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail system into Loudoun County, Va. No taxpayer money is used to operate the toll road, which is funded by toll revenues, or the airports, which are funded through aircraft landing fees, rents and revenues from concessions. The Silver Line construction is funded by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations. The Airports Authority is led by a 17-member board of directors appointed by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States.

Special Olympics Virginia is an accredited state program of Special Olympics Incorporated.  Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports everyday around the world. Through work in sports, health education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Visit us at www.specialolympicsva.org. Engage with us on Twitter @solympicsva; fb.com/specialolympicsvirginia; and youtube.com/specialolympicsva.