This November 10th marked the 34th Annual Christmas Airlift coordinated by the Thoreau Navajo Outreach in New Mexico. Every year a group of pilots from across the state fly provisions into the Navajo Indian Nation at Gallup, NM (KGUP). Many of the Navajo live well below the poverty level without the benefit of running water or electricity.
Each participating pilot is responsible for collecting and filling their plane with clothing, linens, toiletries, toys, or non-perishable food. The donations collected usually come from family and friends, schools, churches, business associates, or other groups or individuals who would like to contribute. They strive to ensure that each plane is filled to capacity. This year saw five tons of donations!
In addition to DAWSON gifting financial aid, our very own Larry Portouw has been a long-time donor pilot and coordinator for pilots from Sierra Vista, AZ. He takes his plane and one passenger (usually his wife, Charlotte) packed to gross weight with about 140 lbs of donations and care packages often packed in 12-18 gallon garbage bags. He has used a 1954 Piper Tri-Pacer (pictured, now in restoration) and a 1969 Mooney M20-C in the airlift.
These contributions of seemingly simple articles mean so very much to the Navajo adults and children who have so little. This annual airlift has also touched the hearts of many Navajo and the pilots who participate year after year. DAWSON is inspired by the innovation this outreach employs to positively impact their community!