|Illustration by bogdancalciu|
Airplanista Blog Editor
If you've been wondering where some of our favorite #avgeeks have gone to on Twitter, I have the answer. Many of them have been burning the Midnight oil these past few weeks up at Santa's secret SkunkWerkz at the North Pole. I have an elf on the inside that has been feeding me classified data about their project. His name is Elfward Snowed-in. (insert rimshot here).
This year, the flight that Santa must complete in one night to deliver all the toys is again a mammoth task, so let's begin by looking at the numbers:
He will launch the sleigh far above the ship's MTOW of 365 tons, lifting off with just over 8.25 MILLION tons of gifts for the estimated two billion kids on this planet. That's 2.2 gifts per kid, weighing an average of 3.75 lbs. each. Once en route, he will have multiple stops in each of the approximately 3.9 million cities, towns and villages around the world. Given that he can only fly Christmas Eve when the kiddos are in bed (8 PM - 6 AM, UTC of course), Santa must hit 108.33 cities, towns or villages per second. Factor in every house with a chimney in those destinations, and you can pretty much rule out him having any time to lollygag and consume milk and cookies. Dude's gotta move with a schedule like this!Yes, those ARE startling numbers, so you can see why Santa, Inc. hired the following #Avgeeks to pimp his ride. Let's go directly to Snowed-in's leaked documents and read what we can...that is what has not be redacted:
First thing Santa needed to even think about this flight is insurance, handled perfectly by @Toriafly. Once that was in place, @Pushingtin worked with NORAD to line up the flight plan, assisted by @Axenty who was responsible for entering the mammoth routing into the Sleigh's FMS.Oops, I've just noticed a black helicopter hovering over my studio, so it appears the NPSA is on to me...um...gotta run. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, thanks for putting up with my crapola for another year.
But long before the trip was to even begin, the sleigh had to be modified to handle this incredible load, and make this impossible flight. To get the engines in top shape, @Jonostrower and @Jetwhine called in favors from their Boeing and Airbus connections, and @EAAupdate put together a sharp team of experimental builders to wrench the whole project together.
This craft is going to need a serious amount of technology to accomplish this mission. So in a dark, windowless back room, @Bradkoehn, @AdamCanFly and @Mike_Miley have been re-writing the 5,657,522,646,097 lines of code needed to keep the Sleigh's operating system up and running. They were assisted by @MLadd, who was doing whatever it is he does (nobody really knows for sure).
If you are going to be making so many stops, you'll want a comfortable ride, so @TomHaines29 and @JTallman1959 hooked Santa up with their completions connections they've used working on @AOPA's many sweepstakes aircraft. The seats were perfect, according to the craft's test sitters, @IOPFlyGirl and @GirlsWithWings.
The panel of the Sleigh was retrofitted with a new G5000 glass system, installed by @XControlled and tested by @JoshDMartin. They completed the task after having 5,604 grueling, spirited public exchanges on Twitter about the wiring. Rumor is, they are still fighting it out about placing the ignition switch on the far right or far left of the panel.
Once everything was ready, it was time for the test flight. @NavyAirCrewMan was in the Sleigh's left seat, assisted by @KarlenePetitt, who brought her years of international airline flying to the team. Also on the flight deck was @AdventureGirl, because if things get exciting, you can expect she will want to be there to write about it. And they were being served piping hot coffee by @Heather_Poole, assisted by @RunwayGirl because she seems to turn up...everywhere these days.
Of course, with a project of this scale, you're going to need a media team, and the SkunkWerkz has that covered. The 450 GoPro cameras attached to the Sleigh were installed by @WiredforFlight, with @DaveFlys set to live-stream the flight worldwide. You'll be able to hear the Sleigh's radio calls through @LiveATC, and on NorthPole Radio, @SnFRadioDave will have everyone bundled up on the front deck at the SkunkWerkz for a lively radio chat.
So as you can see, for Santa to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, a small army of #Avgeeks is required. And this is just the ones that my mole, Elfward Snowed-in (insert rimshot here) could tell us about. When he bailed out from the NPSA (North Pole Supply Association), he allegedly stole 4.5 million secret documents containing everything from the blueprints for Susie's doll house to the launch codes for Johnny's toy rocket ship. He unfortunately was unable to pull the files that describe how an Easy-Bake Oven can cook a cake with a single 60-watt light bulb. That data is sealed in a vault far beneath the SkunkWerkz, which happens to also contain the secret formula that makes everyone just a little bit horny when standing under Mistletoe.