Angel Flight West is pleased to announce the addition of a new volunteer pilot to its membership rolls: Santa Claus.
The holiday icon cited a number of reasons for signing up. “Mrs. Claus and I understand how difficult it can be to get medical care when you live in a remote location. There’s not much in the way of specialty treatment at the North Pole, and that can be a burden for the elves.”
When he learned that Angel Flight pilots provide free transportation, using their own planes, for people with medical issues and other urgent human needs, and that many of those flights involved children, his dimples seemed to deepen.
“Children!” he exclaimed, his voice booming. “That is truly wonderful. All of my flying is for children. Many of them bring me treats, and a lot of them write to me. This will be a great way to help them out.”
At first, Angel Flight West Executive Director Josh Olson was skeptical. “When I asked about his plane, he said he’s one of the few who is type rated in sleigh, and that it’s approved for use in more than 190 countries. That’s impressive. Not even Cessna has that kind of acceptance.”
Olson adds, “He assured me capacity wasn’t a problem. Compared to the load he usually carries, a family of four passengers or more on their way to get medical care that they might not otherwise receive wouldn’t be a problem at all. I asked how many horsepower the engine had and thought he was being modest when he said he doesn’t really measure it in horsepower, it’s actually reindeerpower. Eight.”
At present, Mr. Claus only flies one night out of the year. Flying for Angel Flight will also give him the hours he needs to stay current on his pilot’s license.
During their conversation, Claus said, “I know what you’ve been thinking. And I agree. It’s a privilege — like a gift — to be able to help others and bring them happiness, comfort and joy.”
It’s clear he understands the real spirit of Angel Flight.
Angel Flight West has received member applications from hundreds of men and women over a span of more than 30 years. The names change, the aircraft are different, but each of them comes to Angel Flight prepared to offer the gift of hope, care, and concern to those for whom a donated flight can be a lifetime — or a live-saving — experience.
And to all a good night.