Today I got to enjoy one of my favorite holiday traditions–bringing Christmas to a group of children who live on a small, isolated island in the Chesapeake Bay.
I flew the AOPA Caravan to Tangier Island as part of the annual Holly Run where I was greeted at the small airport by an enthusiastic crowd of kids and their parents. But it wasn’t me the island’s youngest residents were excited to see. They were really waiting for Santa Claus, who decided to forgo the sleigh and reindeer for a ride in the right seat on this chilly afternoon. Even though we didn’t bring the sleigh, the Caravan did get a special ATC designation for the trip–Rudolph One.
Santa had his sack of toys, and the kids lined up to see what he would pull out for each of them. You just can’t beat the excitement of a child at the holidays, or the wonder on their faces when they discover that Santa has brought a special gift for them.
Tiny Tangier Island is accessible only by boat or aircraft, and the majority of the residents make their living fishing and crabbing in the bay. It has a rich history (it was visited and named by Captain John Smith in 1608) but a relatively poor and small population, just about 600 people according to the 2000 census. And while the scenery is postcard perfect, the island’s isolation means many of the modern conveniences we take for granted are more or less inaccessible. So bringing Santa, and his sack full of toys, really means a lot.
It’s something we at AOPA are honored to be part of. And it was a great turnout by the GA community, with nearly 50 aircraft taking part. Our Caravan may not be able to circle the globe in a single night, but it can and does bring some welcome holiday cheer to at least one small community.