By David Klassen
Just a few more sleeps until Santa will begin his journey and deliver gifts to millions of children worldwide.
As his reindeer and sleigh get ready for their voyage, so is the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
NORAD will use four CF-18 fight pilots to act as the Big Guy’s official escorts into North American airspace.
425 Tactical Fighter Squadron Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ménard, and Major Eric Haas, an exchange officer from the United States Air Force, will launch from 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., to welcome Santa as the sleigh approaches Canadian airspace. 409 Squadron Commander, Lt.-Col. Eric Kenny, and Captain Chad Ireland of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., will take over the escort duties as Santa makes his way into Western Canada.
Photos and video of Santa mid-flight will be posted on the NORAD Tracks Santa website at NORADSanta.org beginning December 24.
Children can also receive updates on the 24th by calling the traditional Santa tracker hotline at 1-877-HI-NORAD, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received over 13 million unique visitors from 231 countries and territories around the world. On Christmas Eve alone, NORAD “Santa Trackers” answered more than 74,000 telephone calls and answered 3,500 emails over a 25 hour period.