Editor’s Note: This was published in 1998 when I worked for FAA Public Affairs
Washington, DC — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared Santa Claus for his annual Christmas flight after certifying his fire-engine-red sleigh. Registered in the North Pole as NP-HoHoHo, the sleigh is an all-metal sleigh-craft powered by nine reindeer. In a bid for safer landings at tropical and island destinations, Santa added retractable gear and floats to the aerodynamic twin runners that are his normal landing gear.
Earlier this month, FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation approved the launch of 15 cargo satellites, which are now in geosynchronous orbit around the world. The satellites are supplied with enough presents to periodically replenish Santa’s sleigh.
In a formal presentation, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey commended Santa — call sign St. Nick — for his dedication to safety and noted his accident-free record after 16 centuries of service. “Your work is a model for aging aircraft programs,” she told the world’s best known philanthropist. “And your committment to safety is second to none. Your vast experience in safely operating over-the-pole flights is setting the standard for aviation wordwide.’
After careful analysis, inspectors declared safe the special oat and corn-meal mixture which enables reindeer to fly. Santa reminded them the information was propietary. He was issued a fuel waiver as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph looked on.
FAA also inspected the cargo loading and pallets aboard the sleigh and pronounced the elves consummate professionals in being able to pack so much into such a small space, secure it and still maintain the proper weight and balance for the sleighcraft. They were heard muttering something about magic.