American Airlines employees pull jet for United Way

Teams of American Airlines employees gathered under a rainy sky Thursday morning to pull a passenger jet 15 feet to raise money for United Way.

The annual competition featured teams with names such as “The Bald and the Beautiful” and “Pope’s Pullers.” The latter is named for Terri Pope, American Airlines’ Charlotte hub vice president.

“We feel very strongly about giving back to the community,” said Pope. “And everybody out here’s having a ball.”

About a dozen teams of 20 each pulled the 50-ton Airbus A319 in front of a maintenance hangar. The “Hot Baggers” team won for the second year in a row, with a time of 3.879 seconds.

US Airways, which merged with American Airlines in December, has typically done the jet pull with a Carolina Panthers-painted plane in Charlotte. This year, however, they used a jet emblazoned with American’s new red, white and blue tail design.

“We love the Panthers, but this is a sign,” said Pope. “This is really telling everybody we’re coming together.”