Making Happy Holidays

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Pilots' Good Deeds...

Year after year, a squadron of fellow volunteer pilots join with Santa to deliver the goods. While few of the aerial efforts have reached the sort of legendary status reserved for the Jolly Old Elf himself, maybe some are similarly deserving. One of the longest-running Yuletide aviation benefit programs is Flying Santa of the Lighthouses, now run by Flying Santa Inc. Since 1929, Santa pilots have been delivering gifts to children of families manning lighthouses on the northeast coast and boxes of goodies to lighthouse keepers and Coast Guard personnel. This year, three helicopters, one piloted by Flying Santa Inc. organizer George Morgan and two by Coast Guard pilots, landed at 30 lighthouses from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound. When William Wincapaw started the service in 1929 to bring some cheer to the lonely outposts, he used amphibious planes and sometimes dropped gift packages by parachute. For 22 years, Morgan has run the huge fundraising effort needed to keep the program flying. After making deliveries to 11 lighthouses this year, he retired. He told the Mariner News it was a tossup as to who actually benefited the most from the yearly flights, the giver or the many receivers. "All in all it was a great experience," he said. "And I just hope that anybody [who] stays with it from here on out has as much fun and loves every minute just as much as I did."