The Betty Vinson Christmas Toy Airlift, a project of the Virginia Chapter Ninety-Nines, which consists of volunteer pilots from across the Commonwealth, flew into Chesterfield County Airport on Saturday, December 14 to deliver gifts for military families and for hospitalized veterans. Visitors were invited to fly in or drive to the airport to join in the festivities which included food, music and an opportunity to welcome Santa Claus. Santa arrived by private aircraft and greeted children in the terminal. Live Christmas music was performed by students from the L. C. Bird Chorus.
Collection boxes for toys were setup at public airports across Virginia. Last year the sixth annual Christmas Toy Airlift brought in over 1,000 toys for children of military personnel in addition to gifts and over $1,000 in gift cards for McGuire Veterans Hospital. Pilots flew in from as far away as Martinsville, W.Va. and drove in from as far away as Galax, Va.
This year the event had been renamed in honor of its founder and longtime organizer, Betty Vinson, of the Virginia Chapter Ninety-Nines, who passed away on September 4, 2013.
The Ninety-Nines, Inc. (an international organization of women pilots) was founded in 1929 by 99 licensed women pilots for the mutual support and advancement of aviation.
The Virginia Department of Aviation continually strives to become the standard of excellence among state aviation agencies through its cultivation of an advanced aviation system that is safe, secure and provides for economic development; its promotion of aviation education and awareness; and by providing flight services for Commonwealth leadership and state agencies.