When Christmas Eve comes, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
will track Santa Claus during his annual flight.
NORAD is responsible for handling the air defense of the North America
continent. But it has also been tracking Santas movements on Christmas Eve for
the past 50 years.
NORAD uses four hightech systems to track Santa radar, satellites, Santa
Cams and jet fighter aircraft.
The satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can see heat. Rudolphs nose
gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. Thus, the
satellites can detect Rudolphs bright red nose with practically no problem.
The tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955, when a local Sears, Roebuck and
Co. store ran a newspaper ad urging children to make a phone call on Christmas
Eve and talk to Santa Claus. As fate would have it, the phone number was
misprinted and, instead of reaching Santa, youngsters found themselves talking
with Air Force Col. Harry Shoup of the Continental Air Defense Command at
Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado.
Rather than hanging up, Shoup and his troops answered every childs call that
night with a report of Santas location. CONAD personnel kept up the practice
until 1958, when NORAD was formed and took over Santatracking duties.
We think of it as a geography lesson, because the different places that Santa
visits or sightings that we have, a lot of people havent heard of, said Air
Force Master Sgt. John Tomassi, codirector of Santatracking operations. If we
can get some children to go and look at a map to find out where Timbuktu is, or
where India is, or Pakistan, or wherever, then we feel all the better for that.
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