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.


 
 

 

Air Force announces changes to headquarters organization

WASHINGTON — Air Force leaders announced changes to headquarters staff manning and organization July 14. The Air Force will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces and Field Operating Agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion across the Air Force in the next five years. “I...
 
 

LEAP application window opens

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — The Language Enabled Airman Program is accepting active-duty officer and enlisted applications July 15 – Aug. 22. Those intending to submit applications must register their intent to apply by Aug. 8. Officer candidate students in their senior years may also apply. LEAP is a career-spanning program to identify, develop and...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young

Red Flag 14-3 just days away

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Young An F-15E Strike Eagle flies alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker while waiting for its wingman to finish refueling during Red Flag 14-2 March 13 over the Nevada Test and Training R...
 

 

Majors non-selected twice for promotion may be eligible for TERA

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Majors not selected for promotion for a second time during the current year 2014A lieutenant colonel line of the Air Force J central selection board, including those who declined continuation, may be eligible for the temporary early retirement authority program, Air Force Personnel Center officials said July 3. Officers...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen

RPA crews test skills during competition

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen A MQ-9 Reaper prepares to conduct systems checks prior to take-off at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 13. The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude,...
 
 

Airmen encouraged to review vRED

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — When Airmen go through major changes in their life, such as marriage, a permanent change of station, or having a child, one of the first things that should come to mind is, “I have to update my Virtual Record of Emergency Data,” or vRED. While this is not always the...
 




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