Whew! I was getting nervous about this. Talk about a scandal if Santa got blown out of the air by an F-15 on Christmas Eve. I wonder what Teddy
Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi would have to say about that.
In these days of the global marketplace and heightened travel security, it might seem unreasonable for a jolly fat man in a red suit with a sleigh and
a team of reindeer to expect free access to the nation's skies.
But imagine for a minute the sheer size and agonizing detail of the flight plan that Kriss Kringle, aka Santa Claus, would file before embarking on
his trip each Christmas Eve. In the past, Santa had been required by the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain a special flight certificate and
specify each rooftop he'd visit and in what order. The flight plan and other paperwork were just more bureaucratic details for a cadre of busy elves
to add to their preflight checklists.
So in an effort to make Santa's job easier, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta signed an Open Skies Agreement with the North Pole in
Washington today. The North Pole, represented at a press conference by Santa himself, became the 75th territory to have an Open Skies agreement with
the United States but the first governed by elves.
"Now the only restrictions on Santa's flight are the weather and snow on the rooftops," said Mineta as he stood next to Santa before reporters and
television cameras. "Now the only time he needs to worry about red tape is if he wants to use it to wrap presents."
The two then took up candy-cane pens and signed official copies of the agreement, which grants Santa the right to "fly his sleigh over the United
States and land on rooftops of all good girls and boys whose names are present on his list."
The agreement makes no mention of the homes and rooftops of the bad boys and girls.
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