Navajo Christmas Airlift

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The second Saturday in November is a special day for the Navajo Reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. For most people it is just another Saturday in the fall, but for them, it is their Christmas Day.

Most people are not aware of this, but many of the Navajo in Gallup live in conditions that rival a third world country. Their homes do not have running water or electricity, which is something that a lot of us take for granted. They even struggle daily to obtain the essential items to survive such as: food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, soap, shampoo, clothing, and blankets.

The reservation is about 200 nautical miles from Falcon Field Airport, and it takes about an hour and a half to fly there. To help out these struggling people, The Navajo Christmas Airlift was formed 35 years ago by Dick and Betty McColley. Since its conception, about 40 pilots with charitable hearts have been selflessly donating roughly 10,000 pounds of clothing, non-perishable food, and toys to the Thoreau Navajo Outreach annually. Last year, there were pilots involved from Deer Valley, Glendale, Goodyear, Falcon Field, Camp Verde, and Sierra Vista airports. Every pilot generously collects donations from their friends, family members, businesses, schools, and churches to fill their airplanes to capacity to take to those families in need. It is a process that can be compared to Santa Claus filling his magical sleigh on Christmas Eve to take to all of the good boys and girls around the world.

navajo bags

“Many of us have been a part of the program for about 15 to 20 years," participating pilot Dave Eneboe said. "We all really look forward to it each year. It is how many of us kick off our holiday season. It is something that really makes you feel good about yourself, and it is really very rewarding."

Eneboe has been a part of The Airlift for several years and has owned an airplane at Falcon Field Airport since 2000."It is inspiring to do something that you know is going to put a smile on someone else’s face. At Christmas time it is kind of an important deal,” he said.

If you would like to join or donate to the airlift or for more more information, contact Greg McColley at 602-978-1663 or