by Mark Ollig
Advanced technology and the folks who know how to use it are currently tracking Santa Claus, Rudolph, and the rest of the reindeer team as they maneuver Santa’s sleigh around the world, filled with toys for all the good girls and boys.
For the record (and for any elves reading this column), yours truly was a very good boy this year.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, CO is currently tracking Santa as he makes his annual journey from the North Pole.
This year’s tracking of Santa Claus’ journey is code-named “Big Red One.”
NORAD has been tracking Santa’s flight during each Christmas season for the last 58 years.
“The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD [Continental Air Defense Command] commander-in-chief’s operations “hotline.”
The director of operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born,” said a statement on NORAD’s website.
NORAD says it is tracking Santa using the same space satellite technology it uses for tracking any other airborne object approaching the Northern Hemisphere.
Santa’s sleigh travels faster than starlight, “but this is nothing that our technologies can’t handle,” a confident deputy commander of NORAD stated.
I imagine starlight speeds would be similar to “Star Trek” warp speeds; however, I am unable to officially confirm this.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will once again be leading Santa’s sleigh team; and because his red nose gives off the same infrared flash of light as would be detected from a missile launch, NORAD will be able to easily track the speed, direction, and location of Santa’s sleigh as it treks through the air.
The deputy command of NORAD, acting much like the flight director in NASA’s mission control, recently confirmed the status of each Santa tracking command station.
Yours truly (with the help of my North Pole elf contact Finarfin Elendil), was able to obtain a transcript of the radio communications check from the command stations reporting in to the NORAD deputy commander:
“Sir, this is Weather. We forecast light snow, and low-density cloud cover in the higher elevations.”
“Sir, Intel can confirm that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman will not be a threat.”
“Sir, this is Cyber. Anti-Grinch viral is up, and we’ll continue to monitor for threats.”
“Sir, this is Maritime. Our ships are standing by to conduct any gift rescue operations, if necessary.”
“Sir, this is Space Domain. We have optimal visibility for our satellites to detect Big Red One.”
“Sir, this is the Air Domain. Air space is clear from all threats.”
“Sir, we can confirm Santa is airborne at this time. He is currently descending to 10,000 feet at a speed of 250 knots,” another station reported.
NORAD confirmed a radar lock was established on Santa’s sleigh, along with visual contact of the Big Red One as he traveled from the North Pole. The visual sighting was confirmed by several inflight military pilots monitoring airspace in northern Canada.
Santa and his sleigh team have been given official clearance to fly throughout the skies inside the Northern Hemisphere, by NORAD headquarters.
They are traveling in favorable weather, making good time, and should arrive by Christmas.
Each year, NORAD reportedly uses more than 1,200 volunteers to answer the many thousands of phone calls it receives from children all over the world.
In 2012, approximately 114,000 calls were answered.
You can follow Santa’s journey on the NORAD Tracks Santa website at http://www.noradsanta.org.
This website includes a Santa Tracker Countdown clock, videos of Santa’s North Pole headquarters, interactive games, movies, a library, and holiday musical tunes.
You will also find a direct link to NORAD’s Santa headquarters, along with the history of NORAD’s involvement in Santa’s annual holiday journey.
The official NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will open Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 3 a.m. Central Standard Time.
This is when official NORAD Santa tracking updates will be provided, by calling 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smooth sailing, Santa; may the wind be always at your back.
Merry Christmas, everyone!