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Tangier Island mayor: 'Thank you for not forgetting us'

Annual Holly Run fly-out returns to Chesapeake Bay community

The annual Holly Run charity fly-out to Tangier Island, Virginia, a fishing village of 400 residents in the Chesapeake Bay, returned after a one-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic with more than 40 pilots helping to deliver holly branches for holiday decorations, school supplies, and Christmas presents on December 4.

Santa Claus and general aviation pilot Ralph Hoover leads more than 40 aviators to Tangier Island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay to deliver holly branches, school supplies, and holiday presents during the annual Holly Run charity fly-out Saturday, December 4. The event was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by David Tulis.

The event began in 1968 with pilot Ed Nabb flying a two-person Ercoupe to the tiny island and has grown into an annual holiday tradition for big-hearted mid-Atlantic-based aviators. Organizer Helen Woods of Chesapeake Sport Pilot has been a driving force for the fly-out for several years.

Flying under BasicMed, Santa Claus and general aviation pilot Ralph Hoover led the group in his white-red-and-blue Van’s Aircraft RV–7A after a traditional pancake breakfast for pilots at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland.

Tangier Island Mayor James Eskridge thanked general aviation pilots for their “generosity and for not forgetting us here on this tiny island.”

Swain Memorial United Methodist Church’s Denny Crockett praised the dozens of aviators who donated their time, resources, and energy to make the holidays a little brighter for residents: “I don’t know what we’d do without them. I love to see the planes coming in and not just the planes, but what’s behind the planes.” He said the group “has really helped the people on Tangier Island.”

General aviation pilots gather at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, to deliver holly branches, school supplies, and holiday presents to 400 residents of Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                           Certified flight instructor-instruments Lin Caywood evaluates the restricted airspace surrounding Tangier Island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                                       Santa Claus and general aviation pilot Ralph Hoover joins organizer Helen Woods of Chesapeake Sport Pilot and more than 40 aviators for a photo at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, before flying to Tangier Island, Virginia, during the annual Holly Run. The charity event was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by David Tulis. Student pilot Michelle Held helps ferry holly branches, school supplies, and holiday presents to Tangier Island, Virginia, during the annual Holly Run fly-out. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                          Chesapeake Bay spreads out in front of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk during the annual Holly Run to Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                                                                     Pilots help deliver holly branches, school supplies, and holiday presents to Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                                                                                    Tangier Island, Virginia, resident Larry Pruitt loads up holly branches delivered by general aviation pilots to the fishing village on the island during the annual Holly Run fly-out. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                   Bags of decorative holly branches are delivered to Swain Memorial United Methodist Church on Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                                                                   Parking elf Greg LaFave directs a pilot to a pancake breakfast at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, to begin a charity fly-out to Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                  Ed Nabb Jr., who’s father began the annual Holly Run tradition in an Ercoupe in 1968, joins Helen Woods of Chesapeake Sport Pilot and Santa Claus Ralph Hoover to deliver holly branches, school supplies, and holiday presents to residents of Tangier island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by David Tulis. Certified flight instructor-instruments Lin Caywood and student Tina Richardson wear festive hats during a breakfast for pilots at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                     Tangier Island, Virginia, is a tiny fishing village of 400 in the Chesapeake Bay. Pilots have been delivering holiday presents, holly branches for decorations, and other supplies for more than 50 years. Photo by David Tulis.                                                               Student pilots Michelle Held and Tina Richardson accompanied their instructor during a charity fly-out to Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                                                      A resident’s house on Tangier Island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay is decorated with a small Santa Claus for the holidays. The island’s 400 residents remain vocal in their beliefs. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                              Tangier Island, Virginia, Mayor James Eskridge thanked general aviation pilots for their "generosity and for not forgetting us here on this tiny island," during the annual Holly Run fly-out Saturday, December 4. Photo by David Tulis.                                                  Swain Memorial United Methodist Church’s Denny Crockett is framed by stained glass during a service for pilots donating their time and resources to bring Christmas cheer to Tangier Island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by David Tulis. Santa Claus and general aviation pilot Ralph Hoover waves to Tangier Island, Virginia, residents after delivering holly branches, school supplies, and presents to the island’s population of 400. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                     Children play on a trampoline in Tangier Island, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying

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