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ChapterGram: October 2013

Chapter 113 and Operation Good Cheer


Chapter 113 members join together to help sort and load Christmas presents at Pentastar Aviation for Operation Good Cheer.

Submitted by John Maxfield, EAA 63692, Chapter 113

EAA Chapter 113 in Canton, Michigan, participates in Operation Good Cheer, a community Christmas gift-giving program established in 1971 that provides presents to thousands of infants, children, teenagers, and adults with disabilities.

Each year in October, Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc., sends sponsors a wish list for their sponsored children. Then, the first Friday of December, wrapped gifts are picked up at various donor sites and transported to Pentastar Aviation on centrally located Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac. Truckloads of presents are unloaded by volunteers, including several EAA Chapter 113 members.

In the evening, after most of the non-aviation volunteers have left, the Christmas cargo bound for distant Michigan destinations are loaded into donated corporate and cargo aircraft for distant Saturday morning flights.

On Day 2, Pontiac Airport becomes as busy as Oshkosh in July as pilots fly in to take their part. Veteran Oshkosh controller Jerry Drew organizes airplanes in advance by range, load, and instrument capability, assigning them an arrival time frame. And drop-ins (unscheduled planes) are always welcome.

Ground volunteers bring the gifts planeside for loading by the pilot. It's not uncommon for pilots to remove the rear seats so larger items such as bicycles can fit. After close calculations, most discover they have run out of cubic space before going over their gross weight and it is time to fly!

Just like Oshkosh, departures are handled in safe and swift fashion as planes scatter across the state. Local charity volunteers greet arriving planes with smiles and refreshments as pilots unload their precious cargo.

From here, agency volunteers gather the gifts and deliver them to the children and youth in foster care. As time and packages permit, pilots are free to return and make additional flights until all of the presents have been delivered.

"Even if Christmas or Christianity is not something that is part of me or my family, I was happy and thankful to be part of this operation," said Chapter 113 Vice President Shahar Golan. "I didn't know how much this flying will leave me a warm feeling, even if I don't have a Menorah installed on my Cessna."

Visit www.CFSM.org and click on "Operation Good Cheer" for more details.

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