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NORAD Ready to Track Santa

If you have actually seen the clip, you will notice the escorting planes are F-18's.

Thus, they must be Canadian (which would explain why they are not armed) because within NORAD, we are the only one operating with 18's (The Americans fly the F-15 and F-16 in that role - unless a Navy/Marines plane just happens to be in an area of interest and is temporarily tasked to NORAD).

That would make sense anyway since Santa flies from the North Pole - In our airspace to start with :)
Oldgateboatdriver said:
If you have actually seen the clip, you will notice the escorting planes are F-18's.

Thus, they must be Canadian (which would explain why they are not armed) because within NORAD, we are the only one operating with 18's (The Americans fly the F-15 and F-16 in that role - unless a Navy/Marines plane just happens to be in an area of interest and is temporarily tasked to NORAD).

That would make sense anyway since Santa flies from the North Pole - In our airspace to start with :)
And here's the lucky lads flying them!

Captain Brian Kilroy, from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. Captain Kilroy’s hometown is Grande Prairie, Alberta.


Captain Rich Cohen, from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. Captain Cohen’s hometown is Victoria, British Columbia.


Captain Sébastien Gorelov, from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. Captain Gorelov’s hometown is Montreal, Quebec.


Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad, from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. Lieutenant-Colonel Molstad’s hometown is Edmonton, Alberta.
milnews.ca said:
He said that there was no shortage of studies that tie child-aimed advertising and media influences to a variety of ills, such as childhood obesity, violence and bullying ....
So, NORAD is responsible for fat kids and the bullies who torment them?
Oldgateboatdriver said:
If you have actually seen the clip, you will notice the escorting planes are F-18's.

Thus, they must be Canadian (which would explain why they are not armed)

Why would it explain why they are not armed??
From the Info-machine:
Tracking Santa: A vital Canadian Armed Forces mission

It all started on December 24, 1955, when an incorrect phone number encouraging children to call Santa on Christmas was printed in a local Sears Roebuck and Co. newspaper advertisement in Colorado Springs.

Instead of reaching Santa, the number actually reached the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Air Operations Center, the predecessor of today’s North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

United States Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup was the commander on duty that night. He decided to check the CONAD radars and then reported to callers Santa’s “official” location as he made his Yuletide journey across the globe.

A long-lasting tradition had been born.

Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on December 24th to millions of children and families across the globe.


There are many ways to follow Santa with NORAD on December 24th during his journey around the globe.

Parents and children can call the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Centre at 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), or send an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com . A NORAD volunteer will be able to share Santa’s exact location – any time throughout the day!

Follow along on social media. Santa’s location will be posted regularly on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus (follow him on these platforms by searching “noradsanta”). As well, OnStar subscribers can ask Santa’s location from their car and Windows phone users can ask Cortana for updates ....
This year, you get to meet both the escort pilots and crew chiefs ....

Captain Denis “Cheech” Beaulieu (foreground), from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, is one of Santa’s escort pilots for 2014 and Master Corporal Daniel Boucher is his crew chief. PHOTO: Leading Seaman Alex Roy


Captain Steven "Bunt" Nierlich (right), from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, is one of Santa’s escort pilots for 2014 and Master Corporal Marc-André David is his crew chief. PHOTO: Leading Seaman Alex Roy


Captain Tom McQueen, from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, is one of Santa’s escort pilots for 2014. PHOTO: Corporal Elena Vlassova


Corporal Andrew Shields from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, is a CF-18 crew chief for the 2014 NORAD Tracks Santa mission. PHOTO: Corporal Elena Vlassova


Major Yanick Grégoire, from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, is one of Santa’s escort pilots for 2014. PHOTO: Corporal Elena Vlassova


Corporal Sébastien Morin from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, is a CF-18 crew chief for the 2014 NORAD Tracks Santa mission. PHOTO: Corporal Elena Vlassova
A bit of backstory, from NPR:
This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup's children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. "Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number," she says.

"This was the '50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States," Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. "And then there was a small voice that just asked, 'Is this Santa Claus?' "

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

"And Dad realized that it wasn't a joke," her sister says. "So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho'd and asked if he had been a good boy and, 'May I talk to your mother?' And the mother got on and said, 'You haven't seen the paper yet? There's a phone number to call Santa. It's in the Sears ad.' Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus."

"It got to be a big joke at the command center. You know, 'The old man's really flipped his lid this time. We're answering Santa calls,' " Terri says ....
The rest, as they say, is history.
Over China as I post ....
That time of year again ....
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of tracking Santa’s yuletide journey!

The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, launching December 1st, features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, activities, and more.  The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, so parents and children can countdown the days until Santa’s launch on their smart phones and tablets! Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.

Also new this year, the website features the NORAD Headquarters in the North Pole Village, and highlights of the program over the past 60 years.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. MST (2:01 a.m. EST) on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations. Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com. Any time on Dec. 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.

NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors.

This year’s contributers include: the 21st Space Wing, 140th Wing, Acuity Scheduling, Alaska NORAD Region, America Forces Network (AFN), Analytical Graphics, Inc., Avaya, BeMerry! Santa / Noerr Programs, Bing®, Canadian NORAD Region, Chirpon, The Citadel Mall, Civil Air Patrol, Christmas in the Park, Colorado Springs Business Alliance, Continental NORAD Region, CradlePoint, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Systems, DoD News, The Elf on the Shelf, Extended Stay America, Federal Aviation Administration, Getty Images, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Harris, Hewlett Packard (HP), iLink-Systems, Kids.gov, Level 3 Communications, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, Microsoft®, Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific, National Tree Lighting Ceremony, Naturally Santa’s Inc., Office Depot/Office Max, OneRender, OnStar, PCI Broadband, Portable North Pole/Ugroup Media, Pueblo Riverwalk, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado, Save the Children, Sears, Space Foundation, Spil Games, SiriusXM®, Strategic Air & Space Museum, Unity, U.S. Air Force Academy Band, U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, U.S. Air Force Band of the West, U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Air Force Heartland of America Band, U.S. Army Ground Forces Band, U.S. Band of MidAmerica, U.S. Coast Guard Band, U.S. Department of State Family Liaison Office, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Postal Service, Verizon, Visionbox, West Point Band, Windows Azure, and Xtomic.

It all started in 1955 when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct – only the number was misprinted.  Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center.  Thus began the tradition, which NORAD carried on since it was created in 1958.
And here's who's helping track Santa ....
The Canadian NORAD Region kicks off the 60th anniversary of tracking Santa’s yuletide journey from the North Pole with the naming of his escort pilots and tracking crews for the important job.

Santa’s escort pilots from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, are Captain Andrew Jakubaitis, and Captain Pierre-David Boivin. The CF-188 Hornet crew chiefs supporting them are Master Corporal Marc-André David and Corporal Steeven Cantin.

Santa’s escort pilots from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, are Lieutenant-Colonel William Radiff, and United States Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Bortnem. Their CF-188 Hornet crew chiefs are Corporal Sean Adel and Aviator Laurie Dunbar.

Santa Trackers from 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, include RCAF Major Darren Reck and Captain Pierre Grignon, and United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Amanda Pascoe. The team’s duty it is to maintain radio contact with Santa and his escort pilots ....
An article in the Atlantic which looks at the history of tracking Santa. Ike's instructions about reporting on Santa are particularly interesting:


Yes, Virginia, There Is a NORAD
The real story of the military’s Santa Tracker isn’t what you’ve heard—it’s even better.

Perhaps you’ve heard the legend of Harry Shoup. The gruff Air Force colonel stood watch on December night 60 years ago, in a secure bunker at Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), guarding against a nuclear strike. On his desk sat the Red Phone, connecting him directly to the four-star general at Strategic Air Command. Suddenly, the phone rang.

Colonel Shoup answered. “Is this Santa Claus?” asked a child’s voice. Rather than break a child’s heart, Colonel Shoup played along. Sears, it turned out, had published a newspaper ad, with a jolly Saint Nick urging, “Call me on my private phone, and I will talk to you personally.” Because of a typo, the ad accidentally listed the number for the Red Phone. As calls kept pouring in, Colonel Shoup assigned his staff to play Santa. They began to provide children with updates on the location of Santa’s sleigh. And the NORAD Santa Tracker was born.

The inspirational holiday tale is retold by countless outlets each December. If it had been the plot of a Capra film, The New York Times’ Michael Beschloss wrote last week, “moviegoers might have thought the story contrived.” It sounds too good to be true. And, as it happens, it almost certainly is.

The first clue is that the Santa Tracker takes its place in a long military tradition of keeping track of Saint Nick, using press releases to cultivate favorable coverage. At the height of the Second World War, Eisenhower’s headquarters put out a release offering “Christmas guidance” to war correspondents.  It confirmed that “a new North Pole Command has been formed,” that “Santa Claus is directing operations,” and that “he has under his command a small army of gnomes.” The censors, though, suppressed the location of Santa’s headquarters, directed that his delivery methods be described only as employing “secret devices” or “special scientific techniques,” and proscribed “any mention of radar or speculation on the purpose of reindeer antennae.”

In 1948, as the Cold War replaced the Second World War, it was the State Department that dispatched a diplomatic cable to Kris Kringle, communicating “united desire for peace on earth,” and authorizing him to communicate this “to all men, using herald angels if supplemental personnel imperative.” Perhaps that seemed too utopian a wish, at the height of the Berlin Airlift. The cable took pains to specify: “Danger vetoes, blockades, transportation-delays appears remote.” One day a year, it was nice to imagine a world in which that were actually true.

The Air Force, newly independent of the Army, was quick to get in on the act. It released its first seasonal communiqué in 1948, reporting that its “early warning radar net to the north” had detected “one unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer, at 14,000 feet, heading 180 degrees.” The Associated Press duly passed it along.

By the 1950s, the nation stood on edge, worried that with little notice, the entire country might be incinerated in a nuclear attack. CONAD’s director of combat operations, Colonel Harry W. Shoup, had a flair for public relations. He won a citation for quelling noise complaints from communities adjacent to a base he commanded by explaining “that the noise from friendly jets isn’t as bad as bombs from enemy jets could be.” In October of 1955, he told reporters that Russian jets were capable of reaching any point in the continental United States in 9 to 12 hours. His point, presumably, was to stress the vital importance of CONAD’s role, standing vigilant against Soviet bombers crossing over the North Pole en route to the United States.

It was Shoup who manned the consoles in the fall of 1955. And on November 30, he was sitting at his desk when an ordinary phone rang. (It wasn’t a Red Phone, which ran through a dedicated, lead-encased cable. The whole point of a direct connection between CONAD to SAC was to ensure that the line would remain open, operational, and entirely secure; it wasn’t connected to a public exchange.)

A newspaper account unearthed by Gizmodo’s Matt Novak tells earliest known version of the story. A child trying to dial Santa on the Sears hotline instead dialed an unlisted phone at CONAD, “by reversing two digits.” Colonel Shoup “answered much more roughly than he should—considering the season: ‘There may be a guy named Santa Claus at the North Pole, but he’s not the one I worry about coming from that direction.’”

Bah, humbug!

There was no flood of calls that first year, because to reach CONAD, two particular digits had to be reversed. A few weeks later, when Shoup’s staff drew a flying Santa on the board for tracking unidentified aircraft, he spotted an opportunity. He had his public-relations officer, Colonel Barney Oldfield, tell the wire services that CONAD was tracking Santa, touting its cutting-edge capabilities, but with a rather martial take on the Christmas spirit:

CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas.
The press ate it up. The next fall, as CONAD sought to boost its profile, Oldfield asked Shoup to repeat his Santa-tracking stunt. Shoup reportedly demurred, until Oldfield told him that the AP and UPI had already called. That was enough to tip the balance.

In subsequent years, the public-relations campaign grew more elaborate. By Christmas of 1960, the expanded North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) was posting regular updates from its northern command post in St. Hubert, Quebec, on the flight of one “S. Claus,” listed as “undoubtedly friendly.” Injecting a little drama into the evening, NORAD reported the heavily laden flight making an emergency landing on the ice of Hudson Bay. Canadian fighter interceptors swooped in to discover Santa tending to Dancer’s injured front foot. With the reindeer bandaged, Santa rejoined his fighter escort and completed his rounds.

As the stunts grew more elaborate, so too did Colonel Shoup’s story. In 1961, he still claimed that the number in the Sears Ad was a single digit different from one of the unlisted lines at the Combat Operations Center. “Inevitably, one childish finger missed by one digit,” he told the local Colorado Springs Gazette. But Shoup no longer remembered himself as a Grinch. When he picked up, he told the reporter, he heard a voice ask, “Are you one of Santa’s helpers?” He answered, “One of what?” assuming an airman was playing a trick on him. Then, he claimed, he figured out what was going on. “I’m no helper,” he remembered saying. “I am Santa Claus.”

In later years, Shoup and his family offered ever-more elaborate versions of his tale. The unlisted line became the Red Phone. It wasn’t a misdialed number, but a fateful misprint. It wasn’t one child, but a flood of calls. In the process, the story became a favorite holiday tale, of tough soldiers finding a soft spot in their hearts, and sustaining the hopes and dreams of countless children.

But, from the first, there's been another side to this tale. Air defense is expensive, complicated, and not terribly glamorous. It competes with a host of other defense functions for scarce funds. Years before Harry Shoup answered a wrong number, the Air Force was already using Santa to sell the public on the utility of its early warning radar and vectored fighter interceptors. Shoup helped the Air Force figure out how to do this more effectively. So effectively, in fact, that his commanders turned his stunt into an annual campaign.

The Cold War is long over. NORAD is a shadow of its former self. But the legend of Harry Shoup endures, retold each December by a press eager to offer heart-warming stories to a public eager to consume them. 

And along the way, something genuinely heart-warming happened. What began as a cynical Cold War public-relations campaign became something more. NORAD published an actual phone number, and encouraged children to call in. Military personnel gave their own time to answer those calls. Today, more than 1,200 men and women in uniform volunteer to staff the lines. Last year alone, NORAD answered more than a hundred thousand calls, and logged almost 20 million visits to its Santa Tracker.

The story was told so often, and so many believed in it, that it created its own reality. Tough soldiers really did find soft spots in their hearts, and sustained the hopes and dreams of countless children. Like the tale of Santa Claus itself, it spoke to the collective willingness to suspend disbelief and embrace the dream of a kinder, gentler world, at least for one night a year. And a new holiday tradition was born.
And NORAD's back at 'er -- as of this post, Santa's over S.Carolina.

And from the CF Info-machine, a couple of CF-18's making sure Santa's OK (source) ...


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Bumped to let you know they're back ...
I don't consider myself a rabid, sandal-wearing Antifa anti-capitalist, but the whole "NORAD Tracks Santa, brought to you by ..." just rubs me a titch the wrong way (via FB). Am I alone here?
Not the first such video from this government. Reportedly 1.5 million.