A New England Lighthouse & USCG Tradition Since 1929
Friends of Flying Santa, Inc. was formed in 1997 to help ensure the future of the annual Christmas flights to New England's USCG units and lighthouses. The aerial visits of Flying Santa to lighthouses and lifesaving stations have been a New England tradition since 1929. Capt. William Wincapaw of Friendship, Maine - an aviation pioneer - began the flights as a gesture of recognition to the dedicated lighthouse keepers and their families as well as the crews of the lifesaving stations. Capt. Wincapaw and his son, Bill, Jr., continued the flights for close to two decades. The father and son team eventually recruited legendary author and historian Edward Rowe Snow to assist them with their expanding list of lights and boat stations. After Capt. Wincapaw's passing in 1947, the mantle was passed to Mr. Snow, who faithfully carried on the tradition for over four decades. With the help of his wife Anna-Myrle and their daughter, Dolly, the isolated residents of lighthouses throughout North America continued to receive visits from the "aerial St. Nick".
Today, through fund-raising and public outreach, Friends of Flying Santa strives to continue the annual Christmas helicopter flights and carry on this gesture of gratitude to the men, women and families of the United States Coast Guard who keep watch over our coastal waters. Thousands of hours are volunteered each year to ensure the success of our flights which now encompass more than 30 stops including 61 Coast Guard units from Maine to New York. The helicopter visits and gifts for the children are small tokens of appreciation for the outstanding work of the United States Coast Guard and their supportive families.
Our mission remains dedicated to Captain William Wincapaw and Edward Rowe Snow's philosophy that lighthouse keepers and Coast Guard crews were true lifesavers and deserved to be recognized for their efforts. As long as there are boat station crews, aids to navigation teams and other units serving to keep our waters safe, we will do our part to remind them of how much their work is appreciated.
If you are a fan of lighthouses and maritime history or just wish to show your appreciation for the work and dedication of the United States Coast Guard, please support the Friends and become a part of a great New England holiday tradition.