Air Force

December 20, 2013

NORAD to track Santa’s global journey

NORAD Tracks Santa volunteers answer emails from Santa trackers across the globe at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center Dec. 24, 2012. The NTS Operations Center received
more than 11,000 emails, but was only able to answer 7,000.

WASHINGTON — On Christmas Eve, tens of thousands of children around the globe will gather around their family telephones and computers to track the path of Santa Claus as he makes his rounds delivering gifts on his sleigh led by tiny reindeer.

On the receiving end of the emails, phone calls, mobile “NORAD Santa” applications, website trackers, Facebook followers, Tweets and other social media inquiries into Santa’s journey will stand a cadre of 1,250 volunteers to field children’s questions at the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. NORAD has conducted the Santa tracking program for 58 years, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis, a NORAD spokesman.

“The program has its own life,” Lewis said of the “NORAD Tracks Santa” mass appeal that’s often handed down in families from generation to generation. The program’s website offers games and other activities for children until Dec. 24 when the tracking Santa tracking map goes live, he said.

When the website goes live, other tracking methods via satellite, ground-based radar and “fighter jets” also spring to life, Lewis said. Sirius radio will also give a live-feed rundown of Santa’s journey, he added.

Children ranging in age from 4 years old to early teens contact the “NORAD Tracks Santa” call center at 877-446-6723, Lewis said. Typically, the younger ones want to know when Santa will arrive at their houses, where he is at that moment, and what kinds of gifts he has in his sleigh.

Sometimes children want to know how Santa can deliver presents around the world so quickly.

“Santa travels at the speed of starlight,” Lewis said. “And he’s got the ability to circumnavigate the globe and do his mission with the speed and accuracy that nobody’s ever seen.”

NORAD routinely performs aerospace warning and aerospace control missions 365 days a year, and that’s where the “fighter jets” come into play when Santa approaches his first stops in the Northeastern Canadian provinces, Lewis explained. From there, he goes around North America, then north to south and back and forth along the poles, making deliveries as he goes across each of the time zones, he said.

“[Canada] has the ‘pilots’ this year who will take on the ‘fighter jet’ mission, and as Santa makes his approach into North America, [the ‘jets’] go up, make sure it’s him, verify it on the flight plan that he gave us and let him go on his way,” Lewis said.

As Santa makes his rounds, the call center volunteers tell the children they must be asleep between 10 p.m. and midnight before Santa can bring their presents.

Santa Claus reviews his flight plan for his annual Christmas Eve trek across the globe in the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Current Operations Center at the NORAD and Northcom headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

“A lot of times when we tell the children what time it is they say, ‘That’s really close to now!’ and you’ll hear the phone just drop as they run off to bed,” Lewis said.

The military and civilian volunteers work in two-hour shifts from 3 a.m., Mountain Standard Time Dec. 24 to 3 a.m. Christmas day, he said. Responses are available in eight languages — English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.

“In just the call center alone, volunteers do anything from social media posting, pushing out tweets all night, posting on our Facebook page, and answering phones — which is the largest percentage of [the shift] — and they answer emails,” Lewis said.

During Christmas in 2012, more than 1,250 volunteers in the “NORAD Tracks Santa” call center fielded about 114,000 calls and nearly 11,000 emails from children, NORAD figures show.

The website had 22.3 million visitors from 235 countries and territories across the globe during December, and the program’s Facebook page grew to more than 1.2 million followers.

More than 129,000 people also tweeted about Santa’s journey on Twitter, and cell phones downloaded 1.5 million applications. Altogether, 25 million people around the world followed Santa’s journey in real-time on the web, on their mobile devices, by e-mail and by phone in 2012.

The program began in 1955 when a local newspaper ad directed children to call Santa directly, but the number was a misprint. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Operations Center. Since 1958, Lewis said, NORAD has carried on the tradition.

The program is paid for by 55 corporate contributors, Lewis said.

“We have people calling all the time to help,” he said. “We just could not do this without the volunteers.”

The volunteers sign up for “NORAD Tracks Santa” for a good reason, Lewis said.

“It’s the joy of the season in your heart,” he said. “When you get the first few phone calls from these kids and hear the innocence in their voices … if you step back and take it all in, it’s incredible.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
square

Luke Lightning strikes at Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., taxis to the runway for a training exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., April 15. Maintaine...
 
 

CSAF discusses Air Force’s need to reset

WASHINGTON — The Air Force Association hosted its monthly Air Force breakfast with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in Arlington, Virginia April 2. During his speech, Welsh addressed many topics and issues in today’s Air Force, including hitting the “reset button.” “For the last couple of years what we have...
 
 

Ten seconds later, that picture still exists

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — There is a conversation many teenagers have had with their parents or friends, me included. “Hey, don’t worry! It’ll be fine; all of the pictures I send disappear after 10 seconds. That’s how Snapchat works.” While many teenagers only share their silly, cross-eyed, quadruple-chinned faces with friends, there are a...
 

 

Becoming stronger through failure

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — Failing the Air Force physical training test was my greatest fear since joining the military. It is embarrassing to admit recently that fear came to fruition, but what I have learned through that failure has become one of my greatest strengths. After failing, I definitely felt like a weak...
 
 

‘Eye’ see you

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Lisa Winkelman, 99th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry technician, simulates taking a vision test at the Optometry Clinic on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 15. Getting an eye exam is important to ensure eye vision and pressure is good and in the normal range. For...
 
 

Nellis AFB goes green for Earth Day

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The first Earth Day occurred April 22, 1970, and was introduced by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day in the U.S. Across the Air Force today, installations are taking aggressive strides...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin