As Christmas gets closer, the Canadian NORAD Region has put the finishing touches on plans to track and escort Santa Claus when he visits Canada, and has selected four CF-18 fighter pilots who will act as Santa’s official escorts.
425 Tactical Fighter Squadron Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ménard, and Major Eric Haas, an exchange officer from the United States Air Force, will launch from 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., to welcome Santa as the sleigh approaches Canadian airspace. 409 Squadron Commander, Lt.-Col. Eric Kenny, and Captain Chad Ireland of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., will take over the escort duties as Santa makes his way into Western Canada.
Special NORAD SantaCams, positioned around the world, will take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh as he journeys around the world. The SantaCams instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children worldwide on the NORAD Tracks Santa website, on December 24. All of this information will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese.
The Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ont., will alert NORAD when their radar and satellite systems detect Santa approaching North America. Two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing will welcome Santa as he enters Canadian airspace off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Santa flies across Canada from east to west, two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing will escort through Canadian airspace so that he may safely conduct his Christmas voyage.
On December 24, children can also receive updates on Santa’s Christmas Eve journey by calling the traditional “NORAD Tracks Santa” telephone hotline at 1-877-HI NORAD, or by emailing NORAD. Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received over 13 million unique visitors from 231 countries and territories around the world. On Christmas Eve alone, NORAD “Santa Trackers” answered more than 74,000 telephone calls and answered 3,500 emails over a 25 hour period.
Leading up to the big day, children can visit Santa’s Village and see what’s going on at the North Pole. There is music to listen to, games to play and watch the Candy Cane fill as Christmas Eve draws nearer. If you’re going to be out and about with your family on Christmas Eve, no worries, you can have updates sent right to your smartphone with Google Maps for Mobile.
NORAD is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization, charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. NORAD performs its mission 365 days per year, but on Christmas Eve, NORAD performs an additional mission – tracking Santa around the world.