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Track Santa with Norad on Christmas Eve 2022

On Dec. 24 each year, Norad conducts one of its most important missions: tracking Santa as he delivers presents to children around the world.

Short for North American Aerospace Defense Command, Norad is a joint Canada-U.S. military organization that monitors the continent and its approaches via a network of satellites and radars, with fighter jets ready to intercept potential threats like long-range Russian bombers.

Now in it’s 67th year, the annual Norad Tracks Santa program turns the binational group’s ever-watchful eyes to Santa Claus and his reindeer, even launching fighter jets to escort them over Canada and the U.S.

“Canadian Norad fighter pilots, flying the CF-18, take off out of Newfoundland and welcome Santa to North America,” Norad states. “When the jets intercept Santa, they tip their wings to say, ‘Hello Santa! Norad is tracking you again this year!’ Santa always waves. He loves to see the pilots!”

Beginning at 4 a.m. ET on Dec. 24, you can follow Santa on the interactive Norad Tracks Santa website, as well as on Android and iPhone apps, as he begins his trip at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and then flies west. You can also get information and ask questions by calling 1-877-HI-Norad (1-877-446-6723), starting at 6 a.m. Updates on Santa’s whereabouts will be posted to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. He’s expected to appear over Canada before 9 p.m. ET.

The Norad Tracks Santa Website is available in eight languages and features games, music and videos.

Founded in 1958, Norad is headquartered in Colorado and has installations across the U.S. and Canada.

According to Norad, the annual Santa-tracking tradition began by accident in 1955 due to a phone number typo in a newspaper ad. When a child dialed it in the hopes of speaking with Santa, they actually got the on-duty commander of what was then known as the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs.

Quick to realize the mistake, U.S Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup assured the child that they were speaking to the big man himself. Calls kept coming in, and Shoup assigned an officer to answer them, creating a tradition that continued when Norad was formed with Canada.

While Norad admits its fighter jets can’t keep up with something that travels “faster than starlight,” it has learned a great deal over nearly seven decades of monitoring the purported Canadian citizen.

“Based on flight profile data gathered from Norad’s radar and satellite tracking, Norad concludes that Santa probably stands about 5 feet 7 inches [170 cm] tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds [118 kilograms] (before cookies),” Norad explains. “Norad can confirm that Santa’s sleigh is a versatile, all weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle. It is capable of traveling vast distances without refueling and is deployed, as far as we know, only on December 24th (and sometimes briefly for a test flight about a month before Christmas).”

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