NORAD Tracks Santa

The most important flights for Santa and his team

While we’re all staying home, it’s good to know Santa and his team are going to be flying around the world.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is helping out.

The FAA says that on Christmas Eve Santa Claus and his reindeer-powered sleigh will have special operating authority to conduct interstate air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States.

The FAA is also giving Santa a special commercial space license. This clears Santa for a crewed mission to the International Space Station. He’ll travel there in his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket.

“We are pleased to help Santa safely navigate through the National Airspace System to bring his unique and universal brand of goodwill and joy to children and adults of all ages. Even to those orbiting the Earth,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.  “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.”  

Getting toys under trees is Santa’s traditional goal on Christmas Eve. But the FAA said that this year Santa will give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other critical cargo.

But don’t fret.

The FAA says that with the aid of a flight plan taking advantage of simplified air routes and NextGen satellite navigation, Santa will still deliver all his gifts by Christmas morning.  

Want to follow Santa on his journey? (Or impress a small child that you have that power?) NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a nifty NORAD Tracks Santa site that follows Santa around the world in real-time.

Tracking Santa, with NORAD

Parts of the government may be closed down, but NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) will continue its tradition of tracking Santa’s path around the world on Christmas Eve.

Santa’s Flight Path According to NORAD

On Christmas Eve, NORAD, the military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada, focused its high tech resources on tracking Santa’s flight path around the world. 

Why do they do that?  According to the NORAD Web site:

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” [CONAD is the predecessor of NORAD] The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

Volunteers have kept the tradition going and now, thanks to the NORAD Tracks Santa website, everyone is able to keep an eye on Santa via Google earth and via Santa video cams that, this year, showed Santa visiting places such as the Great Wall of China and the International Space Station.

In addition to all the videos, maps, games, and Santa-facts on the NORAD website, this year we also found a note in memory of Colonel (Retired) Harry Shoup, USAF. Shoup, who died in March of this year, was NORAD’s first Santa Tracker, having received that first “wrong number” asking for Santa.