NORAD Continues the Tradition: Santa Tracking 2021


NORTH POLE – For over 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight across the globe.

It all started because of a misprint in a newspaper ad. This turned out to be a wonderful mistake that has led to over fifty years of joy and smiles during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you want to know where Santa is, give us a call at 1-877-HI-NORAD.

Visit to track Santa’s progress.

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.”

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 the tradition was born.

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

The process has taken on the latest technology online. Starting in 2009, children and their parents were able to use Google Earth to track the global journey of the jolly old elf and his reindeer sleigh as they make their way around the world.

The Canadian NORAD Region has finalized plans to track and escort Santa Claus during his visits to Canada with the selection of four CF-18 fighter pilots who will act as Santa’s official escorts

The Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ont., will alert NORAD when their radar and satellite systems detect Santa approaching North America. The two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing will welcome Santa off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, then hand over their duties as he nears western Canada to the two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing who will escort him ensure for the remainder of his Christmas voyage.

Special NORAD ‘SantaCams’, positioned around the world, will take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh as he journeys around the world. The ‘SantaCams’ instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children worldwide on the NORAD Tracks Santa website on December 24th.

Starting at midnight MST on December 24th, website visitors can watch Santa as he makes all the preparations for his flight.

NORAD is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization, charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. NORAD performs its mission 365 days per year, but on Christmas Eve, NORAD performs an additional mission – tracking Santa around the world.

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