Age of Flight resulted in transportation upgrade for Santa Claus

Santa on a biplane – Merry Christmas – vintage postcard


My aerophilatelist friend, Harlan Radford, Jr., sends us three more scans of vintage postcards as we anticipate the approaching holiday season.

In twelve seconds that changed the world in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first successful powered airplane flight and soon seized the public’s imagination with the new technology that gave birth to the Age of Aviation.

John Winsch designed Christmas postcard 1912


The homepage of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum says it best:

“The decade after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903 witnessed a wide range of reactions to the new technology… The airplane had meaning for everyone—from popular enthusiasm for the pilots and their aerial exhibitions, to the commercial and military potential of aviation, to the broad cultural implications of flight, to the artistic expression it inspired.”

Why, even St. Nick would soon eschew his traditional sleigh with its eight flying reindeer and embrace the new powered flying machine as depicted on these early 20th century postcards. The mechanical powered flight by the two bicycle mechanics from Ohio inspired a public fascination with aviation, flight, and modern technologies which postcard artists of the era exploited to appeal to buyers.

John Winsch designed Joyful Christmas postcard 1913


Suddenly, postcard artists mixed the technological marvels of the day – dirigibles, hot-air balloons, and aeroplanes –  with traditional holiday iconography and Santa’s transportation choice received an instant upgrade.

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew their powered aircraft for 12 seconds above the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, NC. IMAGE CREDIT:


Come back next week to see more vintage Santa postcards with an aeronautical theme courtesy of collector, Harlan Radford, Jr.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

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