Photostory #406: Canada's Arctic Airmen on Goodwill Mission: With the Christmas Stars to Guide Them
National Film Board of Canada
December 21, 1965
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
When the last full moon before Christmas throws its gentle white glow across the desolate expanse of Canada's arctic vistas, the few remote Canadians scattered thinly over the secret vastness turn their eyes south, huddle against the bitter chill as they eagerly listen for a visitor they know will surely come. For, with snow and ice erriely aglow in moon-reflected light from a sun not to be seen again for another three long, dark months, the scene is set once more for the Santa Claus air drop by the R.C.A.F. In what has become an arctic tradition over the years, members of 435 Squadron, Edmonton, fly a 6,000-mile mission to carry Yuletide cheer and messages to isolated outposts of the high arctic. Guided by experienced arctic airmen skilled in the precise art of astro-navigation, the big, four-engined turbo-prop Hercules seeks out a score of tiny settlements hidden in the immense void of the arctic's winter darkness, circles down low, then climbs up and away leaving a string of large wicker baskets floating earthwards by parachute to the waiting hand below. Toys for the children, special foods for the holiday, a Christmas tree to brighten a small warm spot in a bleak landscape, presents and messages of good cheer from friends far away - all these go softly drifting down, little guide lights winking each basket's whereabouts to the running forms below. With the moon full and bright, Canada's airborne courier of gifts and goodwill, has again carried out its cheerful task through the long, never-ending darkness of the arctic night.