Navajo Christmas Airlift

by Gregory McColley

While the temperatures have not yet quite chilled off, our thoughts naturally start to turn to the Navajo Christmas Airlift coming in November. For so many of us, the Airlift is very special intro to the Holiday season and a wonderful representation through the hundreds of pilots and donors that the Navajo Airlift has touched so many hearts.

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We have the formal date targeted for the 2016 32nd Navajo Airlift in coordinating with recognized November activities as well as validation with the Thoreau Navajo Outreach. The planning is for Saturday, November 12 (the second Saturday of November), into Gallup, NM (KGUP). The flight is 196 miles for KGUP, and the Ramp has very sufficient Ramp space to manage our team and allow for growth. The Wiseman and Gallup terminal provides very comfortable space to get out of any unreasonably cold weather, as well as a couple restroom facilities. A big advantage in Gallup is the availability of fuel, especially for the Sierra Vista pilots, with the past complications that had surfaced again for Window Rock.

Each plane would typically have a pilot and one passenger, with all remaining space filled with clothing, toys, or non-perishable food. The Airlift has always been a fun and rewarding occasion, one the regular participants look forward to each year. Anyone who has collected a plane load of material is welcome to join us.

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It is hard to understand how poor most of reservation is only a few hours from us here in Phoenix. Many of the Navajo live in virtual third world conditions in homes without even running water or electricity. The donations might be gently used clothing for children or adults, blankets, good condition toys, toiletries or non-perishable food to fill the planes for the trip. Clothing and soft pack are ideal, as may be packed in garbage bags, which then works very well for packing in the planes. The food stuffs, cans, and toiletries may be put in small cardboard boxes as the weight tends to accumulate.

Another option would be to help create and coordinate care packages for special purpose kids. As an example, in earlier special efforts have created care baskets for young girls at a school, with Shampoo, Soap, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Lotion, some special candy, etc. These simple articles mean so very much to children who have so little.

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All participating pilots are responsible for collecting clothing, toys, and food to fill their planes for the trip. The donations collected usually come from friends, schools, churches, business associates, or other groups or individuals who would like to contribute - the donations are tax deductible as is the flight. This does require each pilot to plan proactively and collect a load of donations. We strive to ensure that all planes are filled to capacity. If you have something you would like to contribute, but will not be able to join in the flight, you may contact myself or any participating flight member to help make arrangements.

We are fortunate this annual Airlift has touched the hearts of so many pilots from across the state. The past couple years we have flown into Gallup, which provides greater opportunity for more pilots to participate. We strive to coordinate the departures to synchronize arrivals for the Navajo community service team. Thoreau Navajo Outreach. We also frequently manage any final packing of extra materials in the days prior or early that Saturday morning and provide any needed final briefing for the flight and meeting at Gallup.

Projected Scheduling:

DATE: Saturday, November 12, 2016

TIME: 7:30 AM Final Loading for participating Aircraft

~8:15 AM Approximate Coordinated Departure

~10:30 AM Arrive at Gallup and Unload the Planes

Greet the Navajo People

11:00 AM Brunch in Gallup?

Shopping at Trading Post ?

Return at your leisure.

Considering the success of last year, we are also reaching out to other DVT pilots to attempt to increase the impact we can have for the Navajo Nation. Many of you will see an upcoming notice for the Deer Valley Pilots Association, as we believe we can more than comfortably grow our team to over 40 aircraft.

If you are available and interested in participating in this year’s airlift, please let us know so that we can start planning on the roster as we all start managing for our donations. If you plan to join in the Airlift, or simply need more information, please do feel free to contact Greg McColley at 602-978-1663, or E-Mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank You for any assistance or consideration in supporting this tremendous 32nd Annual event.

Thank you, as always, for all for your support,

Blue Skies,


April’s APA Happy Hour at Harold’s!

by Mary James & Susan Wearly

Our Spring Social at Harold’s Corral in Cave Creek on Thursday, April 28th was loaded with fun, food, and lots of stories! We hosted sixty-eight pilots, spouses, aviation enthusiasts, and honored military people. Guests came from all over the Valley and even from Tucson. It was wonderful to see old friends chatting and new friendships forming. Tables were set with red, white, and blue flowers, toy and wind-up airplanes, flags, and more. APA President, Tommy Thomason, welcomed everyone and helped announce the winners of the Question Board Raffle. Two questions were posed and Question #1 had 6 correct answers. Tommy drew from these 6 and congratulations went out to Tim Greer for correctly answering the question of who founded the Arizona Air National Guard – Barry Goldwater. Tim and his wife Lynell took home a liter and a half of Maker’s Mark Bourbon as their prize. Question #2 had 3 correct answers and kudos to Robin Gerblick for her winning answer to the question of who owns the Gray Ghost – Tommy Thomason. Robin and her husband Jim walked away with a fifth of Glenfiddich Scotch. Way to go, Tim and Robin! The party went on well past our 7 pm ending time! It was a great way to welcome in the Double Circle Ranch Fly-In scheduled for April 29-30.

Organizers Susan Wearly and Mary James wish to thank Tommy and all of the APA staff for allowing them to run with their party planning and for helping. $140 was raised toward our Scholarship Program. We had a great showing of just how impressive the APA is as a volunteer organization.

Watch for news of a Fall social later this summer – this could be habit forming!!

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