33rd Annual Navajo Christmas Airlift
by Gregory McColley
The 33rd Annual Navajo Christmas Airlift is planned for Saturday, November 11th. We will be flying into the Navajo Indian Nation at Gallup, New Mexico (KGUP), approximately 196 nm from DVT on a 055 degree true course. We will synchronize for an arrival with another core group departing Sierra Vista Libby Field (KFHU) that morning, although we have pilots participating from across the Valley and the State.
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 the 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 family and 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.