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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Santa and Mrs. Claus load gifts in planes in West Jordan, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The gifts will be delivered to children at East Elementary in Cedar City as part of Santa Flight.

WEST JORDAN — Santa Claus took an early flight Tuesday sans reindeer to bring some early holiday cheer to children in southern Utah.

Fifteen volunteer pilots of the Utah Wing of Angel Flight West departed South Valley Regional Airport on their annual Santa Flight. Their destination was Cedar City, to deliver toys, school supplies, books, backpacks and warm clothing to the nearly 600 children at East Elementary.

Caleb Clayton, Alex Wilkerson, Austin Wooley, James McIntyre, and Nolan Coburn — Eagle Scout candidates from the Salt Lake area — have used this as their Eagle Scout service project. They have gathered school supplies, winter coats, toys and cash based on the needs of the school.

Upon reaching Cedar City, the Scouts and Santa and Mrs. Claus were joined by Dallin Henrie and Eric Lambert, Eagle Scout candidates from Cedar City; members of the Utah National Guard; and volunteers from Southern Utah University. They were greeted at the Cedar City Airport by all the students from East Elementary. They then proceeded with a fire engine and police escort to an assembly at the school to deliver Christmas to these children.

Since the first Santa Flight in 2000, the members of the Angel Flight have worked with their local communities to gather needed supplies and toys and deliver them to rural communities throughout Utah.

As with every Angel Flight mission, the pilots donate their time, talent, airplanes, fuel and operating expenses.

Founded in 1983, Angel Flight West is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that arranges free, non-emergency air transportation in response to health care and other compelling human needs. The Utah Wing has 38 pilots and flies 100+ missions a year within and through Utah.