ALTHOUGH he more often travels by sleigh, Santa Claus surprised a York school by paying a flying visit on board a helicopter.

Santa is understood to have been on the Sea King Mk3 helicopter which circled in the skies above St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School in Monkgate yesterday afternoon.

Children ran across the playground, following the helicopter and shouting and waving to Santa before going home for the Christmas holidays.

The flight was organised by Flight Lieutenant Gareth Dore, of Heworth, whose children Davis and Truman attend the Monkgate school.

Six-year-old Davis said: “It looked like it was doing some circuits around the school and then it went towards the Minster. Everone was calling ‘Santa! Santa!’ Everyone was excited.”

Flight Lt Dore, who is based at Normany Barracks in Beverley, asked his colleagues, Flight Lt Rebecca Bethell and Graham Stewart, to pilot the helicopter with Santa on board. He said: “I think the children were quite happy. They have had a really nice day at school.”

Santa had been due to visit the school earlier in the week, but challenging weather circumstances had meant the trip was rescheduled.

Headteacher Jane Conway said: “It brings some of the magic of Christmas to the children of our school. So many children believe in the magic and it’s something we want to encourage.”