Saturday, 10 December 2011

Father Christmas and his other job - One of the world's great secrets.

Recently I was on assignment in an undisclosed destination in the Africa, when I was somewhat flabergasted to come across the world's most experienced pilot. I was given a rare and somewhat exclusive interview as well as an opportunity to ride side-kick with this merry bundle of fun. Yes, you've guessed it, it was Santa Claus. Rumour always had it that he spent his time hanging out with Misses Claus and building toys in the off season but I can tell you with absolute confidence that these rumours are just that, rumours...

I picked up with Father Claus refuelling his Cessna 208 Caravan on a piece of rare African concrete. He was heard to have said whilst pumping in some JET A-1, "I was flying before the the Wright Brothers were out of nappies (diapers) anyway they were a pair of cowboys.... and who do you think gave them their first propeller anyway, though twas hell getting it down the chinmey!" 

He looked somewhat trimmer than normal but I guess it is red that makes you look fat and he looked in good form in his blues, well for a man of his age anyway. I can now reliably say in his off season from January 1st to Dec 24th that he keeps current at his flying by working with some really interesting guys, in an organisation called MAF - Mission Aviation Fellowship. I asked him what MAF was all about. He grinned at me his eyes sparkling out from under his bushy eyebrows & his weather beaten bronzed skin, all seemed at odds with his snowy white beard! "Well we fly these small aircraft, there are about 130 of them, based in over 30 different countries, each able to bring help hope and healing to some of the remotest communities  in the world, we partner with lots of organsations and it is great getting to know some remarkable people and supporting them in their work."

Loading some medicines for MedAir
     Flying up some blood for the blood bank                

I was dying to know though why one of the world's oldest and most experienced pilots in the world fly small aircraft for MAF.  Throwing back his head and giving a loud "ho ho ho, well I guess it keeps my hand in, as landing a sledge with 6 frisky reindeers on an upsloping roof, in a cross wind in driving snow, takes a bit of handling, well it feels about the same as a heavily ladden Caravan going into Kaabong on a hot and windy day! So I guess Christmas day flying keeps me on my toes for MAF and MAF operations keeps me in the game for C'mas day! Hey I'll tell you these Reindeers are great fun but  not nearly as much as flying an amphibious floatplane in Bangladesh, now that is the bees knees, nothing quite compares with that. I guess I make a lot of difference to people on Dec 25th but these guys make a difference to lots of people on the other 364 days of the year and I love just helping them do it."There was a whistful look in Santa's face as his mind raced off to watery flights in warmer climes flown long ago.
                                          Unloading with Bishop Bismark in South Sudan.
So if you want to find out why Father C flies with MAF, why don't you check out their web sites, perhaps even sign up for their free magazine. So if you live in the UK use,  in the US and Australia So Merry Christmas from me Bryan at Biggles Abroad

Stopping by for a cup of tea with the Karamajong
A well earned rest me think's

A break with ground staff. No reindeer to muck out here!
The Guernsey Press and a cup of Rooibos bliss!
So Merry Christmas from me Bryan at Biggles Abroad