This may perhaps be the first photo ever taken of William H. Wincapaw Sr., as the Flying Santa of the Lighthouses. He is shown here (far right) prior to his second flight in 1930, with his young teenage son, Bill Jr, and Rockland area lawyer Alan L. Bird (far left). On December 25th of that year, the Rockland Courier Gazette published an article about the flight and reported:
“For the first time in history, Christmas greetings from the city of Rockland will be extended to all of Uncle Sam’s light stations in the Penobscot Bay district. ‘And how?’ With a tardy sun only a few hours high in the eastern heavens an airplane, piloted by William H. Wincapaw, manager of the Rockland Airport, will be winging its way along the coast and over the islands wherever stands a beacon designed for the mariner’s safety.
“Flying low over those isolated stations, Captain Wincapaw and his companion, Alan L. Bird, the well-known Rockland attorney, will let fall a bundle containing newspapers and magazines and conspicuously tagged, ‘Christmas Greetings From the City of Rockland.’”
“It goes without saying that the Courier-Gazette will be included among the newspapers delivered in this novel manner, and its holiday greetings are added to those which are extended by the city through the medium of the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service. Each package will weigh from 10 to 15 pounds, and it is easy to see where the reading matter will be welcomed especially at the stations isolated from mail service.
“The flight made by Captain Wincapaw and Mr. Bird will total approximately 160 miles. If conditions are favorable Captain Wincapaw will visit Mt. Desert Rock, 34 miles from the mainland; otherwise Monhegan 28 miles out will be the farthest journey seaward.
“Here is the list of light stations scheduled for the airplane’s Christmas tour: Saddleback, Isle au Haut, Mark Island, Goose Rock, Eagle Island, Pumpkin Island, Heron Neck, Matinicus Rock, Two Bush, Whitehead, Owl’s Head, Rockland Breakwater, Brown’s Head, Indian Island, Negro Island, Grindle Point, Dice Head, Fort Point, Tenant’s Harbor, Port Clyde, Manana (fog signal station), Franklin Island and Swan’s Island.
“It is difficult to picture a more interesting trip than the one thus outlined, and which has certainly never had a parallel in New England. Again – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you folks.”
When enlarged, the rolled bundles the three are holding in the photo clearly are labeled with the exact words, “Christmas Greetings From the City of Rockland.” The photo was in an album in the possession of Shirley York Robinson, daughter of lighthouse keeper George York. The other people in the photo next to Capt. Wincapaw were unidentified until we researched this story. Once again, another slice of history has been rediscovered and preserved now in the pages of Lighthouse Digest for future generations. (Shirley Robinson Collection, Lighthouse Digest archives)
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2022 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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