The countdown to December 24 has begun! As the big night approaches, the Canadian NORAD Region has announced its roster of CF-18 pilots, maintainers and trackers who will be tasked with monitoring and escorting Santa as he completes his magical journey through Canadian airspace.
As the jolly man in red makes his yuletide journey around the world, CF-18 escort pilots and maintainers chosen from both 3 Wing Bagotville, QC, and 4 Wing Cold Lake, AB., and trackers from the Canadian Air Defence Sector at 22 Wing North Bay, ON, will have the watch. Santa trackers from 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron at 22 Wing North Bay include Captain Darren Ashton (of Scarborough, ON), U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Michael Lombard (of Baltimore, Maryland) and Corporal William Jodoin (of Victoria, BC) will be on the watch, too, maintaining radio contact with Santa and his escort pilots as he travels across Canada. From 3 Wing, Captain Jean-Sébastien Otis (of Charlesbourg, QC) and Captain Michael Lachance (of Winnipeg, MB.) will serve as Santa’s escort pilots, while Master Corporal Patrick Dallaire (of Rivière-des-Prairies, QC) and Corporal Francis Beaulieu (of Chicoutimi, QC) will form the maintenance team. From 4 Wing, Captain Jesse Haggart-Smith (of Maple Ridge, BC) and Captain Jacob Naccarato (of Windsor, ON), are this year’s escort pilots, with Sergeant Chad Peacey (of Duncan, BC) and Corporal Zach Bailie (of Scarborough, ON) serving as maintainers.
Fun fact: NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 when a young child dialled the misprinted phone number from a department store advertisement in the local newspaper. That phone number rang into the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center, NORAD’s predecessor, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. United States Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night, was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa. He then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls.
Though Santa tracking won’t start till 4 a.m. MST on December 24, the NORAD Tracks Santa website is now live, featuring Santa’s North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, activities, info and more in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Ho ho ho! —Vita Daily