Tracking the sleigh: five billion presents already delivered

Out with the grim and in with some joy... NORAD tracks Santa through Maine

Thu, 12/24/2020 - 10:45pm

    The U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, in collaboration with Canadian tracking teams, are on their game at this very moment, tracking Santa Claus, as he and his reindeer make their way from the North Pole, and around the globe.

    Around 10:50 p.m., Santa made his way through Maine — with NORAD confirming his sighting in Brunswick and Augusta — as he inched closer to 5.6 billion gifts delivered. 

    This annual mission has been underway since 1955, when a young child accidentally dialed the unlisted phone number of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, believing she was calling Santa Claus after seeing a promotion in a local newspaper.

    Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night, was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the youngster that CONAD would guarantee Santa a safe journey from the North Pole.

    Thus a tradition was born that rolled over to NORAD when it was formed in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions across the globe.

    Thanks to the services and resources generously provided by numerous corporate contributors and volunteers, NORAD Tracks Santa has persevered for more than 60 years. 

    Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives nearly 15 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers receive more than 130,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children around the globe.

    CF-18 escort pilots and maintainers are chosen from both 3 Wing Bagotville, Que. and 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., while the trackers are chosen from the Canadian Air Defence Sector at 22 Wing North Bay, Ont.

    "Thanks to the dedicated men and women who keep a watchful eye over North American airspace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NORAD tracks everything that flies in and around North America. On December 24, we also have the special mission of tracking and escorting Santa,” said Major-General (Maj.-Gen.) Eric Kenny, Commander of the Canadian NORAD Region. “Utilizing the North Warning System's powerful radar and satellite systems, we are able to see into the North better than ever, allowing us to track Santa more precisely, ensuring he has a safe trip through North American airspace.”

    Santa trackers from 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron at 22 Wing North Bay include Aviator Diana Perry (of Meadowvale, Ont.), Aviator Stephane Jacques (of Valcartier, Que.) and United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Thomas Truong (of Wichita, Kansas) will be on the watch. Their duty is to maintain radio contact with Santa and his escort pilots.

    From 3 Wing, Captain Jean-Sébastien Otis (of Charlesbourg, Que.) and Captain Caleb Robert (of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) will serve as Santa’s escort pilots, while Corporal Jean-François Denis (of Saint-Anne-des-Monts, Que.) and Corporal Claudia Côté-Pellerin (of Saguenay, Que.) will form the maintenance team.

    From 4 Wing, Captain Tucker Densmore (of Halifax, N.S.) and Captain Sean Foster (of Cold Lake, Alta.), are this year’s escort pilots, with Corporal Edrendel Caddarao (of San Marcelino, Philippines) and Aviator Christopher Marsh (of Scarborough, Ont.) serving as maintainers.

    “From everyone across the Canadian NORAD Region who work every day to keep Canada and North America safe – thank you for your professionalism and for the support of your families. Happy Holidays!” added Maj.-Gen. Kenny.