Each year on December 24th Santa undertakes the most daunting general aviation flight of the year! His trip circles the globe and includes billions of stops. Many stops are complete with cargo unloading, whether it be wrapped presents or loads of coal, and the refueling of Santa himself with cookies and milk, not to mention refueling the reindeer with carrots and other goodies!
Santa’s flight includes stops at a variety of places, many which aren’t FAA-approved airfields to boot. This means the landing conditions vary greatly, again many without proper condition reports by airport professionals and without the benefit of aviation weather reporting equipment. Yet somehow Santa maintains a superb on-time record for departures, arrivals and deliveries. As pilots we know that sloping runways present concerns, landing with a tailwind is dangerous, even just landing on a downward sloping runway can present challenges. Just imagine Santa landing on rooftops, many with significant pitch from side to side as Santa lands across the roof for maximum distance.
A look at Santa’s FAA approved sleigh shows that there have been significant upgrades over time. All aimed at keeping Santa, the reindeer and the precious cargo of presents safe and sound. Not to mention the public protection in the wee hours of the overnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, while Santa and his team of reindeer pass over literally EVERYONE on Earth!
There are a couple of other Flying Christmas favorites, like the approach plates that Santa uses to get home…
The Wright Brothers might be credited for the first powered, heavier-than-air flight in December 1903, but Santa has been perfecting it for a LONG time…
UPDATE: Each year I search for a heart warming Christmas story of a great thing a group or someone individually did that was amazing while also having a touch of aviation in the story. Nothing really stood out by the time this post autoposted at 7am on 12/24/16, but an hour later while looking around I found the story that fits for sure. Check out this tale of a Southwest Airlines employee who selflessly gave up his time to help a young girl in need and return her loving teddy bear, all while giving the bear the airport adventure of a life time. It’s so amazing to read these types of stories, and this story in particular highlights the Southwest Airlines LUV! Check out the story HERE.
-Fly Safe @MTElia1B9