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Santa spends week at SLN preping for big day

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Published on Dec 8, 2010

Salina, Kan., (December 1, 2010) -- The Salina Airport has seen its share of special guests. Everyone from Aerosmith to Sarah Palin has been through "America's Fuel Stop," but this week's special guest has caused more excitement than the usual rock stars, assorted actors and famed politicians.

Ol' Saint Nick's "Santa1" appeared on the radar Monday morning with great excitement.

"Mr. Kris Kringle will be on the airfield the bulk of the week," explained Salina Airport Authority Public Affairs Manager Melissa McCoy. "He has a lot on his agenda. We'll be doing everything we can to facilitate this trip."

Father Christmas is using Salina as a temporary basing facility to put the finishing touches on his Naughty and Nice List as well as prepare for the big day.

The Jolly Old Elf's first order of business was to visit K-State to brush up on the latest in aviation technology.

"Santa has been flying for hundreds of years, he knows the ropes," said Tom Karcz, an assistant professor at K-State Salina. "You don't get to do something that long without staying on top of you education. We help him with that."

Although it generally takes weeks for pilots to ensure they are up to date and compliant with FAA standards, Old Saint Nicholas, famous for his speed, finishes in just a few hours. After working out at the new Student Life Center and studying hard to finish his classes in warp speed, Santa worked up and appetite and headed to Flower Aviation for some of their famous cookies.

"I sat by the fire with him for about an hour. He ate all of my cookies, but I think I talked myself off the Naughty List," said Flower Aviation General Manager Doug Livergood. "I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed until Christmas."

Kringle also spoke with CAV Aerospace President Kevin Hawley about retrofitting his sleigh with TKS ice protection.

"Although, Mr. Kringle has been flying his reindeer-powered sleigh for centuries through the worst ice and snow imaginable with no official record of a crash, the concern is still there," said Hawley. "We met to negotiate development of ice protection for his sleigh."

Hawley would not comment on the nature of the negotiations but hinted that they may include a pony and a little red wagon.

"I'm not about to let another package deliver company take over my route because they have the ice protection I don't," Santa said referencing the recent contract to retrofit the FedEx Express fleet with TKS ice protection.

Kringle then made a stop at the Kansas National Guard to thank the soldiers for all they do for the country.

"We were hoping to get some insight from Santa on his yearly stealth operations," said Sgt. 1st Class Lary Patrick. "But before we could get any answers he was gone without a sound."

The local military weren't the only ones on Santa's Nice List. With the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron back in Salina training to drop some packages of a different type, Santa was pleased to ensure they too would be getting presents this year. After all Santa Claus can't make it safely to the U.S. without a little help from our neighbors to the north!

Santa ended his flightline visit with a relaxing afternoon of stringing... but mostly eating popcorn at America Jet.

"He sure loves our popcorn," said America Jet Manager Greg Lust. "He made a 12,300-foot popcorn garland! He may have eaten most of it, but now I'm thinking of decorating the runway with it. After the 35th batch he promised to put us all on the Nice List so it was worth it."

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