Did I mention Christmas? If you missed it, NORAD was tracking Santa's progress this year. http://www.noradsanta.org/ I am wondering if Santa busted any Temporary Flight Restrictions or other critical airspace. How does he deliver presents flying his sleigh to 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC? I tip my hat to Santa for being able to get clearance though P-56. The Jolly Dude really knows how to cut through the clearance processes doesn’t he? Has anyone caught the N- number on that sleigh? Is it properly placarded? What tests have been performed to prove the reindeer propulsion system to be safe? Has the exhaust been properly analyzed for the EPA? Not only does Santa manage to get his overweight sleigh off the ground and through some very tricky airspace, I wonder how he deals with OSHA for his repetitive exposure to toxins and heat found in one chimney after another.
The logistical nightmare, known as Christmas, is only partially about the gifts. What about the people? You know … Friends and Family? So, I ask, “What delivers the people home to be united with family?” Here is the answer I’ve got....Airplanes. (This isn’t a blog about train travel.) Families, Santa and people rely on airplanes so much during the holiday seasons.
I remember working over the holidays being part of an airline crew moving plane-loads of people around for the holidays. Often I thought about my role and the airplane's role during the holidays. Most of the passengers took it for granted, but that's okay. It made me realize that aviation is silent infrastructure. It enables families to be connected so meaning can be added to the gifts given. It puts realization to the words in Christmas songs like "There is no place like home for the Holidays" and "All I want for Christmas is you!" Imagine if airplanes didn't exist. The way we celebrate holidays would be completely different. And, personally, I wouldn't have any money to buy anybody presents because I'd be out of a job.
One recent flying lesson I gave involved uniting a family for Christmas. The student was a Father flying to the University of Illinois to pick up his Daughter and her friend to bring them back for the Holidays. There is something unsaid and magical about incorporating the student’s flying lesson with their personal life. Creative lesson planning let me fly down to the University of Illinois with him and see the smiles and excitement of a family uniting.
Aviation is powerful. Heck, even Santa relies on it. Simply put, the holidays would be different without the airplanes. It’s a neat thing to be a part of.
PS - Thank you to all the crew members and airlines who worked over the holidays to unite families and deliver invaluable gifts this year! You guys rock!