Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NORAD Tracks Santa

The North American Aerospace Defense Command has begun tracking a flying sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer, believed to be carrying gifts for everyone but the leadership of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's directorate of Security Infrastructure. At this writing, the craft just passed Auckland New Zealand.

Monitoring the flight from Peterson AFB, Colorado, the defenders of our airspace will supply live video feeds of actual real-time satellite footage to a special website.

NORAD's predecessor CONAD (the Continental Air Defense Command) began tracking the annual journey of Santa's sleigh on Dec. 24, 1955, after a series of errant phone calls was made to the CONAD Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. A Colorado Springs newspaper had printed a Sears, Roebuck & Co. ad which provided a telephone number for children to call to talk to Santa. The number was one digit off, corresponding to CONAD's operations center. The subsequent barrage of phone calls convinced the CONAD watch officer, Col. Harry W. Shoup, that Santa was a man worth watching. He directed his staff to monitor the progress of the sleigh, a tradition that is now in its 50th year.

For the last four years, the task has been facilitated by Google Earth. Thanks to Google, busy State Department officials, or those at embassies facilitating Codels, can track the old man's progress on their Blackberries.