ISS1 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 55

He even found commercial sponsors to underwrite the cost of the parcels and the flights. In the late 1930s, the program expanded requiring the services of a third Santa. The Wincapaws enlisted New England maritime historian Edward Rowe Snow to fill the position. During World War II, deliveries became more sporadic; however, by war's end the Flying Santa visited an impressive 115 lighthouses and Coast Guard stations. In 1946, the program even tested the latest aviation technology using a helicopter to assist in airborne deliveries. The Flying Santa reverted back to fixed-wing aircraft the next year and helicopters would not be used again for over thirty years. In 1947, Captain Wincapaw suffered a heart attack during a flight out of Rockland and died in the ensuing crash. Numerous lighthouse keepers, their families, and representatives from the Coast Guard, Army and Navy attended Wincapaw's memorial service. At the appointed time of the service, fog horns and lighthouse warning bells called out along the Maine Coast to honor the man who established the beloved Flying Santa tradition. After Wincapaw's passing, Edward Snow took over the program, and Snow and his family became the heart and soul of the operation. With the support of dedicated pilots, Snow honored Wincapaw by expanding the flights to include nearly 180 lighthouses and boat stations. In certain years, the program even served installations along the shores of the West Coast and Great Lakes; and remote locations, such as Bermuda and Sable Island, 100 miles off the Nova Scotia coast. Snow continued the Christmas tradition for forty-five years. He retired in 1981, when failing health prevented him from taking part in further Flying Santa missions. That year, oversight of the Flying Santa program passed to the Hull Lifesaving Museum in Hull, Massachusetts, and helicopters replaced fixed- wing aircraft to transport the Flying Santa. In 1987, lighthouses underwent automation; however, the Flying Santa continued to visit Coast Guard bases and installations. In the 1990s, a number of retired Coast Guardsmen began volunteering to serve as the Flying Santa. And, in 1997, the all-volunteer Friends of Flying Santa was organized as a private non-profit to run the Flying Santa program. The Flying Santa has been in operation nearly ninety years since Captain Wincapaw founded it. During that time, the Flying Santa has missed only the year 1942 due to the security concerns of World War II. Today, the program delivers Christmas gifts to over 800 Coast Guard children at seventy-five units located from Maine to New York. � In 1946, the Flying Santa used a Sikorsky S-51 for deliveries. It was the first use of a helicopter for Christmas deliveries. (courtesy of Friends of Flying Santa) Flying Santa visiting Station Jonesport (Maine) in 2015. (courtesy of Friends of Flying Santa) Issue 1 • 2017 � RESERVIST 37

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS1 2017