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Tue, Nov 28, 2023

39th Annual “Navajo Airlift” Goes off Without Hitch

30,000 lbs of Payload Ferried Out West

Civil Air Patrol’s Arizona Wing once again put on the annual Navajo Airlife, flying out donated toys, clothes, household items, and food in a wagon train of aircraft flying out of 24 airports.

The occasion marked the 39th iteration of the Airlift, ultimately ferrying donations in clothing, household supplies, educational kit, and the like for Navajo communities via the Southwest Indian Foundation. The 3-day 2023 airlift faced some stiff winds in Gallup, Arizona, leading some flights to be called off or diverted to more calm airports in the region. This year, about 80 pilots and 90 aircraft participated, which papers out to a whole lot of weight using some rough back-of-the-napkin math.

“I cannot commit precisely for the volume of donations,” said Greg McColley, Airlift coordinator. “I have received feedback that continues to affirm that 275 pounds per plane remains conservative, and with the scheduled missions and ground transport we are in the range of 27,000-30,000 pounds of donations.”

Whether or not that's accurate down to a couple pounds is iffy, since each participant is on their own in gathering donations, preflighting their aircraft, and flying their mission. Even after all the aircraft had flown their stick, donations filled the hangar.

“I had 10 pilots pick up donations from the storage unit at Falcon Field, which the airport graciously donated for temporary safekeeping of the donated items,” Roden said. “There was still a large number of bags with donated items left over, and I could have used 8 to 10 more planes.”

To pick up the leftovers, McColley commissioned a 10-foot panel van to haul the leftovers from Deer Valley to Winslow.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of donations delivered to me but was glad we were able to get them delivered by any means necessary,” Roden said. “This is an annual event, and I'll be reaching out again next year for volunteers.”

FMI: www.cap.news


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