Canadian NORAD Region announces Santa’s escort pilots, maintainers and trackers

News Article / December 14, 2017

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Royal Canadian Air Force

The Canadian NORAD Region (CANR) marks its 62nd year of tracking Santa Claus’s yuletide journey from the North Pole with the naming of its escort pilots, maintainers and tracking crews for the high-profile assignment.

Captain Pierre-David Boivin and Captain Pierre-Claude Quirion, from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, were selected as Santa Claus’s eastern escort pilots. Sergeant Marc-André David is the maintainer supporting them. This year’s 3 Wing team comes from 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron.

Lieutenant-Colonel Forrest Rock and Captain Kevin Mittelholtz are Santa’s escort pilots from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta.  Corporal Kevin Richmond and Aviator Gillian Lavoie are the maintainers supporting them and they are all members of 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron.

At 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, Santa Trackers from 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron’s Charlie Flight are ready to maintain radio contact with Santa Claus and his escort pilots. Major Kathleen Leaton, Staff Sergeant Patrick Bisigni of the United States Air Force, and Master Corporal Gabriel Chartier are standing by to carry out this crucial responsibility to help ensure Santa’s safe transit through Canadian airspace.

“The men and women of NORAD keep a watchful eye over the airspace of Canada and the United States 24 hours a day, and we are very proud to do so,” says Major-General Christian Drouin, the commander of Canadian NORAD Region, which is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “ Every year, we take on an additional, but very special responsibility – employing the same technology and systems we use to defend our two countries to track Santa’s passage and escort him on his journey through North America. It’s truly an honour to support Santa as he delivers joy and goodwill around the world.

“On behalf of our entire team at the Canadian NORAD Region, I wish everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season!”

About NORAD Tracks Santa

The NORAD Tracks Santa website is now live and available in eight languages, featuring Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, activities, and more.

Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the 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, Instagram and Google+. Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.

Starting at 2:01 a.m. EST on December 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 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 e-mail to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com. Any time on December 24, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa. Bing and Cortana users can also find Santa's location on December 24.

"NORAD Tracks Santa" is a truly global experience that has delighted generations of families around the world. 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.

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