Members of VFW Post 3571 in Delta and 784 in Montrose met an aircraft with three aircrew and over 1,000 pounds of food and toys for distribution to veterans in the Montrose and Delta area. The crew flew the aircraft to Montrose Regional Airport from Centennial Airport near Denver Wednesday, Dec. 23, as part of the annual CABA/VFW holiday airlift project. With the cooperation of the pilot, aircrew, VFW members and the staff of Black Canyon Jet Service, the plane was unloaded and the goods were on their way to assist veterans in the area. Generous local donations to the CABA/VFW airlift are also acknowledged and greatly appreciated.
This was the fifth year for the program, started by the Colorado Aviation Business Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States as a veterans assistance program and to increase the awareness of how involved aviation businesses are throughout the state of Colorado. During the last five years, tons of food and toys have been collected by CABA at aviation businesses and get-togethers, mostly on the Front Range, loaded by CABA and VFW members onto donated aircraft, and airlifted to locations throughout Colorado. The airlifted goods have been distributed to needy or homeless veterans by members of local VFW posts and their auxiliaries.
The holiday airlift has grown every year, this year involving 13 aircraft, airlifting to seven locations throughout the state. Over three tons of food and toys were delivered to over 250 veterans and their families, including a special delivery to nine "medically retired" combat veterans, recuperating from severe injuries, and their families (including 26 children). From meager beginnings, it has surged to the VFW Department of Colorado commander's special project and assisted hundreds of veterans and their families. Most of the planes are piloted by student pilots from Metro State University, with pilot instructors with them for support if needed. All planes are private aircraft donated by their owners to participate in the holiday airlift. One of the most challenging flights on the airlift is the flight to the Montrose and Delta area. It takes a larger and more powerful aircraft to cross the Rocky Mountains, and, for safety, the pilot needs to be able to make the flight by instrumental flight rules.