Caught Our Eyes: Santa Gets Credentials

Who can appreciate clear skies more than Santa? This 1927 Harris & Ewing photograph documents Santa receiving rather than giving: he gets the “all clear” to navigate the skies on Christmas Eve, complete with a pilot’s license.

Santa Claus receives aeroplane pilot's license from Assistant Secretary of Commerce. Although there may not be sufficient snow for his reindeer sleigh, Santa Claus will still be able to deliver his load of presents on time this Christmas by using the air route. The old saint called at the Commerce Department in Washington today where he is shown receiving an aeroplane pilot's license from Assistant Secretary of Commerce. for Aeronautics William P. MacCracken, while Clarence M. Young (right) Director of Aeronautics, Department of Commerce, looks on. Airway maps and the assurance that the lights would be burning on the airways Christmas Eve were also given to Santa

“Santa Claus receives aeroplane pilot’s license from Assistant Secretary of Commerce. Although there may not be sufficient snow for his reindeer sleigh, Santa Claus will still be able to deliver his load of presents on time this Christmas by using the air route. The old saint called at the Commerce Department in Washington today where he is shown receiving an aeroplane pilot’s license from Assistant Secretary of Commerce. for Aeronautics William P. MacCracken, while Clarence M. Young (right) Director of Aeronautics, Department of Commerce, looks on. Airway maps and the assurance that the lights would be burning on the airways Christmas Eve were also given to Santa.” Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1927 November or December. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.34635

While a pilot’s license may not be on everyone’s wish list, anyone who has worked with historical photographs can appreciate the gift of an informative caption. Captions for the thousands of photographs in the Harris & Ewing Collection run the gamut: Some offer full details on who, what, when, where and why, as in this case. Others arrived with no caption at all–a different kind of gift for history detectives everywhere–an invitation to hunt for clues!

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2 Comments

  1. Sharon M.
    December 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

    What fun! Even back then, pre-NORAD, apparently folks enjoyed extending the concept of Santa’s ride into our own airspace. Love the aviator goggles!

  2. JMJ
    December 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    A cute and sweet story… if we can be assured that, even though he had thousands of previous flying hours, Santa was properly tested before receiving his pilot’s license. I regret raising such issues, especially at this time of year; however, his carrying presents to this official meeting is cause for concern.

    What concerns me even more is the fact that maps were provided but not with requirement that Santa have a co-pilot or navigator along. It appears to me that he officially was being encouraged to do the 20′s equivalent of texting-while-driving.

    Merry Christmas & Safe Flying to ALL.

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