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