This week all eyes will be on the friendly skies for a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh! To make tracking Santa’s flight easier, you can use the same tools we do to keep tabs on the big guy on Christmas Eve. Our friends at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are working hard to make sure everyone knows where Santa is during his flight around the world!
It all starts when radar indicates Santa has lifted off from the North Pole and then special satellites 22,300 miles above Earth begin to pick up Rudolph’s bright infrared nose. When Santa makes his way to North America NORAD fighter pilots in either CF-18’s, F-15’s, F-16’s or F-22’s greet him and his famous reindeer to escort the jolly group throughout Canada and the United States.
Because Santa’s sleigh is much faster than the fighter jets, he actually must slow down to be escorted! All of these systems work together to allow NORAD to track his whereabouts for the entire journey. It’s important to note that only Santa knows his exact route, but NORAD has observed that he tends to visit homes only after the children are asleep. Here are more interesting facts about Santa’s flight and how NORAD tracks him:
It’s estimated that Santa’s sleigh weights 75,000 gd (gumdrops) with 60,000 tons of presents. The propulsion is 9 rp (reindeer power) fueled by hay, oats, and carrots. With a climbing speed of One “T” (twinkle of an eye) and a max speed of faster than starlight, Santa’s sleigh remains a marvel of aviation.
A History of Tracking Santa
A happy accident prompted NORAD (formerly CONAD) to start tracking Santa! In 1955, Sears & Roebuck misprinted their hotline number for kids to call Santa. Instead, the phone number rang to the Continental Air Defense Command’s (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief hotline. Children were delighted to start receiving updates from CONAD about Santa’s suspected whereabouts when they called in, and thus the Santa Tracker tradition was born! Now more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilian volunteers answer the thousands of calls and emails from children on December 24th and keep the world updated on Santa’s flight!
How to Track Santa
To join in on the fun, visit www.noradsanta.org or download the free NORAD Santa Tracker app for Android and iPhone. You can also contact NORAD directly with all your Santa flight questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-HI-NORAD (Call using Skype too!).
All of us at SHD wish you a joyous holiday season and many wonderful memories made with those you love. Thank you for trusting SHD and United/SkyWest to bring your family together during this magical time of year!