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NORAD tracks Santa
Team Vance families can track Santa Claus on his world-wide journey Christmas Eve with the help of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. (Courtesy artwork)
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NORAD tracks Santa's Christmas Eve flight

Posted 12/18/2012   Updated 12/18/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Frank Casciotta
71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

12/18/2012 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Team Vance families can track Santa Claus on his world-wide journey Christmas Eve with the help of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The official NORAD Santa tracker website,, will provide updates on Santa's location using the GPS satellite systems, radar satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets escorts.

The website also features Christmas-themed games, videos and background information on Santa based on research from almost six decades of tracking him.

NORAD uses radar to detect Santa's initial take off from the North Pole. From there, satellites orbiting 22,300 miles above the Earth's surface take over using sensors that allow them to detect the unique heat signature of Rudolph's glowing red nose.

Santa cams, originally installed in 1998 at strategic locations along Santa's known route, are high-speed digital cameras. NORAD only uses the cameras once a year to capture images of Santa and his famous reindeer.

American and Canadian fighter aircraft intercept and welcome Santa when he crosses into North American air space.

Since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, formerly known as the Continental Air Defense Command, has tracked Santa on his Christmas Eve route thanks to a mistake in an advertisement by a Sears store in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The advertisement meant to list a phone number for a Santa hotline, but due to a misprint the number advertised was actually the direct line to the commander of the Continental Air Defense Command.

Instead of hanging up the phone when the first child called, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the director of operations at the time, gave an update to the caller on Santa's location.

Since then, NORAD personnel volunteer their time answering phone calls, responding to emails and tracking Santa's movements throughout the month of December.

Check on the NORAD Tracks Santa website for information on tracking Santa using mobile phones apps, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

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