Summer 2013

Memorial Plaque Dedicated for Flying Santa Pilot Albert Aucoin

at Nobska Point Light

Friends of Flying Santa rededicated a memorial plaque to Albert Aucoin on Sunday August 4th at Nobska Point Light. 

Mr. Aucoin was a WWII Navy veteran and pilot. He was quite a skilled aviator and in the late 1950s signed on as a pilot for Wiggins Airways in Norwood Massachusetts. This is where his connection to the Flying Santa program began. Maritime author, historian and Flying Santa for over four decades, Edward Rowe Snow had the good fortune to be assigned Mr. Aucoin as his pilot for his annual Santa flights. 

Mr. Aucoin quickly learned the unique ways that Flying Santa employed to deliver Christmas packages. (It is much easier today with helicopters. We can land and hand-deliver the gifts with relative ease.) 50 years ago, with fixed wing aircraft, it was a different story. It usually involved three passes at each lighthouse or CG station. The first pass was to alert the keepers or crews to the arrival of Santa, the second pass was the bombing run, where the pilot would be required to fly at an altitude of 100 feet at 100 miles per hour. As he got over his target, Mr. Snow would chuck the package out the open window of the plane. The final pass would be to see if the delivery was successful. And more often than not, the recipients would be standing by, waving and holding the packages above their heads.

There were some failed deliveries. One year a package broke through the skylight of the keeper’s house at Ipswich Light. Another year, a package smashed the windshield of the truck at Station Chatham. And on Monhegan Island, a row of picket fencing was wiped out by one off target delivery. But these were the exceptions. Mr. Snow was proud of a success rate of over 90 percent. This was of course due to in large part to the skill of pilots like Mr. Aucoin. 

Tragically, in August 1964, Mr. Aucoin was killed in a plane crash in Falmouth, MA. In his honor, the following year Mr. Snow and the Massachusetts Marine Historical League gathered at Nobska Point with the Aucoin family and friends and dedicated a plaque in his memory. It hung for many years before being taken down, most likely during a renovation project, and unfortunately was lost. After inquiries from the family, Friends of Flying Santa decided to remedy this loss by commissioning and rededicating a new plaque. 

Joining us at the recent ceremony were Mr. Aucoin’s sister Dora Hoffses, wife Kaye Moffat, daughter Judy Aucoin Elliot and many other relatives who traveled from as far away as Nova Scotia. Also on hand were USCG CAPT John Kondratowicz and his family and one of our current Flying Santas Tom Guthlein and his wife Vicki. Nobska Point Light keeper Mike Bedard was a gracious host and provided assistance in hanging the plaque and giving tours to the Aucoin family. 

Over the years numerous Flying Santa pilots have contributed to the success of our program. Enough cannot be said of their skill, their enthusiasm and their dedication to this tradition. They look forward to these flights as much as the children do, if not more. We know that Edward Rowe Snow must have felt the exact same way about Mr. Aucoin, as we do about our pilots.


The Aucoin family gathers inside Nobska Point Light for the unveiling of the memorial plaque for Albert Aucoin



Albert Aucoin's daughter Judy Aucoin Elliot, sister Dora Hoffses and wife Kaye Moffat unveil the memorial plaque for Albert Aucoin inside Nobska Point Light



Albert Aucoin's daughter Judy Aucoin Elliot, sister Dora Hoffses and wife Kaye Moffat unveil the memorial plaque for Albert Aucoin inside Nobska Point Light



Dora Hoffses beside the memorial plaque for her brother Albert Aucoin inside Nobska Point Light






Kaye Moffat, Judy Aucoin Elliot, Dora Hoffses and CAPT John Kondratowicz of USCG Sector SENE beside memorial plaque for Albert Aucoin inside Nobska Point Light.



Judy Aucoin Elliot, Dora Hoffses, Brian Tague and Kaye Moffat beside memorial plaque for Albert Aucoin inside Nobska Point Light.



Attendees at the memorial plaque dedication to Flying Santa pilot Albert Aucoin at Nobska Point Light - Woods Hole, MA.



Judy Aucoin Elliot, Tom Guthlein and Kaye Moffat at Nobska Point Light.



Nobska Point Light



Flying Santa visits George's Island for Edward Rowe Snow Day

August 21, 2011










Fall 2009

Flying Santa visits George's Island for Edward Rowe Snow Day

August 23, 2009

George's Island - Boston Harbor
George's Island - Boston Harbor
George's Island - Boston Harbor
The Edward Rowe Snow Pavilion
Santa and his sleigh
Santa in front of the Snow memorial
Santa with Suzanne Gall Marsh of FBHI
Edward Rowe Snow Day cake
Santa with Dolly Snow Bicknell and her daughter Laura prepare
to cut the cake.
Santa with John Forbes
Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands
Denise Sarno-Bucca district manager of BHI and DCR ranger
Santa with his pilot Evan Wile and elf Alyssa Wile
Santa - close friend of BMCS David Considine - USCG


Spring 2009


2008 Flights to New England's Lighthouses & USCG Stations

By Brian Tague

December 2008 marked the 79th year of Flying Santa flights to New England's USCG stations and lighthouses. This holiday tradition was established in 1929 by Capt. William Wincapaw, a Maine seaplane pilot, as a gesture of appreciation to the lighthouse keepers, lifesaving crews and their families who stood vigil along our coast. On Christmas Day, Capt Bill would take to his plane and drop packages of holiday treats for the dedicated folks at these isolated outposts. The tradition was carried on for many years by maritime author and historian Edward Rowe Snow, who sometimes visited lighthouses as far off as the West Coast and Bermuda.

Pemaquid Point Light

Friends of Flying Santa continues these flights today, using helicopters to make visits to over 30 stations and lighthouses from Jonesport, ME to Jones Beach, NY. An all volunteer non-profit organization, the Friends hold fundraising events during the year to cover the costs of the program including scholarships for Coast Guard dependents. Each December, during three days of flights, we visit with and deliver toys to over 600 CG children. The role of Santa is shared by two CG warrant officers, Tom Guthlein and Dave Waldrip.

Goat Island Light

Our first flight of 2008 took place on December 6th and covered nine stops in Maine and New Hampshire. The sleigh for this flight was an Agusta 109e generously provided by Granite State Aviation. Pilots Greg Harville and George Louzek did an outstanding job transporting Santa Tom Guthlein to his anxiously awaited appointments along the coast. With weather more suited for actual reindeer, Greg and George safely guided us through some severe snow squalls that were parked over Penobscot Bay for the majority of the day. The first half of the flight included landings at USCG STA Jonesport, USCG Southwest Harbor, the island of Vinalhaven and Owls' Head Light. Taking a break to refuel at Downeast Air, Greg and George donned their official reindeer noses and presented gifts of appreciation to former owner Bob Stenger and his daughter Leslie Richardson for their longtime support of the Flying Santa flights. Back in the air, we continued on to stops at Pemaquid Point Light, Burnt Island Light, Portland Head Light and Goat Island Light before finishing up the day at STA Portsmouth Harbor. Over 200 gifts were delivered to the children of these northern New England Coast Guard units.

Chatham Light

Our second flight of the season took place on Sunday, December 14th covering 10 Massachusetts stops from Nantucket to Newburyport. The Bell Jet Ranger for this flight was generously provided by Ray Newcomb and JBI Helicopters of Pembroke, NH. This was the second year that Ray stepped forward to sponsor one of our Santa flights. Returning pilot Leo Boucher did an awesome job dropping in at some of our tightest landing areas. With Santa Dave Waldrip, we visited with over 200 children during stops at Brant Point Light, Chatham Light, Cape Cod Light, STA Cape Cod Canal, Scituate Light, STA Point Allerton, Boston Light, Hospital Point Light, STA Gloucester and STA Merrimack River. At every stop, pilot Leo donned his reindeer nose and cheerfully showed off the JBI Jet Ranger.

Prudence Island

Reminiscent of 2007, bad weather once again forced us to twice postpone our final flight of the year to stops in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. For the 7th year running, Evan Wile, along with Cannon Aviation, donated his helicopter and piloting services for our flights. Setting out the day after Christmas with a full load of fuel, toys and good humor aboard Evan's MD 520N, we were transported to STA Jones Beach, Stratford Point Light, Lynde Point Light, Point Judith Light, STA Castle Hill, Prudence Island Light, Aids to Navigation Team Bristol, Warwick Light, Nobska Point Light and West Chop Light. At all of the stops Santa Tom was greeted by very appreciative Coast Guard families, some of whom have been participating for almost 20 years. These special Santa visits continue to be a large part of their holidays. Their children have grown up more familiar with Santa's helicopters than his reindeer.

Hospital Point Light

The long list of pilots, all current and past members of the New England Helicopter Council, has helped make this annual tradition a huge success. Friends of Flying Santa remains extremely grateful to pilots Greg, George, Leo and Evan as well Granite State Aviation, JBI Helicopters and Cannon Aviation for their past, present and future support of this 80-year-old tradition of good will to the families of the USCG.

(To view all the photos from December's flights please visit our Photo Galleries)




Gift Items
We would like to take this opportunity to remind our friends that Friends of Flying Santa offers a fine selection of apparel sporting the Friends logo. Our hats, sweatshirts, polo shirts and T-shirts are available in most popular sizes. For more information on our full line of gift items, check out our Gift Items page.


Newsletter Archives

Brian Tague
Jeremy D'Entremont


82 Elm St
Stoneham, MA 02180
Tel: (781) 438-4587