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Santa's sleigh over Micronesia is a Hercules C-130J

Dec. 10 Christmas Drop is a tradition dating back to 1952

Once again, the people of remote islands across Micronesia are looking forward to manna from the skies.

Members of the U.S. Air Force 36th Wing stationed at Andersen Air Force Base and their international partners will take to the air Dec. 10 for the 67th Operation Christmas Drop.

Santa's helpers on the way, 2017

"The Department of Defense's longest recurring humanitarian mission is a long-standing tradition of packaging and delivering food, tools and toys to more than 57 remote islands in the Southeastern Pacific, including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau," said a press release from the Air Force.

It does go far back. In 1952, locals on the island of Kapingamarangi in Pohnpei waved at the aircrew of a passing WB-50 Superfortress, prompting the crew to gather, pack and parachute goods to the islanders.Nearly seven decades and more than 1 million pounds of charitable goods later, the 2018 missions are set to carry on this tradition of international goodwill.

The payload

The modern version lasts a week. Beyond an impulsive charity drop, the Andersen crews are now joined by Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Yokota Air Base in Japan, working with their partners in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the Philippine Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, to execute low-cost, low-altitude training air drops. The aerial delivery will serve as valuable interoperability training for the partner nations while delivering various donations provided by private donors, charitable organizations and the University of Guam, according to the release.

Once again, the aircraft of choice is a new model Hercules, which allows crews to expedite cargo across an area covering more than 1.8 million square miles.

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Pacific Island Times

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