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The Flying Santa is the name given to a tradition that dates to Christmas of 1929, when packages of gifts were dropped from a plane to lighthouse keepers and their families along the New England coast.
The organization was the brainchild of pilot William Wincapaw, who became lost during a snow storm during a cargo-laden flight in 1929. He finally sighted the Dice Head Lighthouse, and was able to use the lights of this and 6 other lighthouses along the way to guide himself home.  wished to give something to the keepers whose work he admired. So well received was his work that he expanded the program to cover more light stations and Coast Guard stations in future years. Wincapaw did not initially consider himself a Santa Claus; the title was bestowed upon him by residents of the stations that he visited. Soon he would be joined on the route by his son, Bill Jr., and by noted author Edward Rowe Snow. Snow participated in the program for over forty years before his retirement.
Wiggins Airways eventually began providing chartered aircraft for the Flying Santas, whose flights have continued uninterrupted, apart from the years of World War II, since 1929; helicopters are now used instead of planes. Chief Warrant Officer David Waldrip, USCG, and Chief Warrant Officer Tom Guthlein, USCG, are the current Santas. Today, the nonprofit Friends of Flying Santa continues the flights primarily as a way of expressing gratitude for the work performed by the Coast Guard.
- Santa Claus
- Christmas events and celebrations (category)
- Christmas traditions (category)
- United States Lighthouse Service
- United States Lighthouse Board
- Lighthouses in the United States
- Olson, Wyatt (Dec 22, 1997). "Santa Sentiment Soaring: St. Nick uses helicopter to visit area lighthouses". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
- "The Flying Santa of Coastal New England". New England Historical Society. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
- D'Entremont, Jeremy. "First Flying Santa Honored at Maine Lighthouse Museum". Lighthouse Digest. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
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