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NORAD’s tracking won’t be affected by government shutdown

December 23, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Despite the federal government shutdown, NORAD will use its technology to track Santa Claus' movement across the world, dropping off gifts for the good boys and girls around the world. Norad reports its personnel scheduled for Christmas Eve will report to the office regardless of what's happening in Washington, DC.

According to Norad's headquarters (, for 60 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa's flight.

It started with a misprint in the newspaper.

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The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." 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.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

According to the Norad website, "Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website. Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa's journey."

Fact Box

Flights plans approved for S. Claus

The Emmet County Emergency Management Agency, Iowa Department of Homeland Security, NORAD and other local officials has received the approved flight plans for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. According to the FAA Santa has filed his flight plans and has received permission to fly in restricted air space for Christmas Eve only. The technical specifications for his flight plan include:

Aircraft Identification:

2018 Red Sleigh called Santa 1

Pilot: S. Claus

Aircraft Type:Sleigh

Top Airspeed:350 miles per hour

Allowed Cruising altitude:

Rooftop level

Proposed Departure Time:

When the kids are asleep

Actual Departure Time:

When all eyes are closed

Fuel on board: Enough oats, carrots and hay for 9 reindeer

Remarks: For Christmas Eve only the lead reindeer will be allowed to have a lighted red nose.

Santa will be tracked by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) not only for his security but to insure that no enemy of the United State will pose as Santa Claus and cause us harm.

NORAD Tracks Santa, but only Santa knows his route, which means Norad cannot predict where and when he will arrive at any particular house. The trackers do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep.

In most countries, it seems Santa arrives between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns late, but only when the children are asleep, according to Norad tracking experts.

What route does Santa travel?

Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. Keep in mind, Santa's route can be affected by weather, so it's really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa's Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. Norad just tracks him.



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