...Pilots, Aircraft Help Out

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Of course you don't have to get down and dirty for a good cause. About 140 Michigan pilots took part in Operation Good Cheer this year to deliver a dozen truckloads of gifts throughout the state to foster children. This great excuse to fly began in 1980 (for pilots -- the charity itself has been around since '71) with a single pilot who went to 16 different airports. "We love to fly and there's nothing better than flying with a purpose," said West Line Cessna 210 pilot Mark Neal. Mother Nature wasn't as charitable, however. Some of the pilots bucked 50-knot headwinds to make the deliveries, which ultimately found their way to 4,800 young abuse and neglect victims. But the good cheer didn't end there. In yet another unrelated charitable event, the Candy Bomber has struck again, this time on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Almost 60 years after he dropped candy from his C-54 to German children during the Berlin Airlift, retired Col. Gail Halvorsen planned to repeat the gesture for less desperate, but likely just as appreciative, kids near Nags Head, N.C. Halvorsen, last Saturday, hoped to drop 100 candy-laden parachutes from the C-54, which took part in the airlift and is now dubbed the Spirit of Freedom. After landing at Dare County Regional Airport, Santa was to have disembarked and greeted kids there.