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CF-18 pilots on standby to escort Santa across Canada
CBC ^ | December 22, 2012 | Janyce McGregor

Posted on 12/23/2012 10:42:02 AM PST by Squawk 8888

Santa Claus may see you when you’re sleeping, but only a privileged few can actually see Santa during his high-speed international flight on Christmas Eve.

The job of escorting Santa while the rest of the world sleeps falls to the same people tasked with keeping North American skies safe the other 364 days of the year: the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD.)

But it’s more than monitoring the jolly man's flight on radar: Santa also gets a fighter jet escort during his time in North American airspace.

Videos released on NORAD’s website reveal two of the four Canadian fighter jet pilots given one of the most special, secret missions around: escorting Santa’s sleigh during his Canadian deliveries “like a small parade.”

CFB Bagotville-based Maj. Benoit Bouchard and Capt. Vincent Landry were filmed as part of NORAD’s promotional video this year.

After Santa’s flight through Eastern Canada is complete, the Quebec-based pilots will hand off to CF-18s from 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alta., somewhere around the Ontario-Manitoba border.

CBC News has learned that the pilots taking over this year are Lt.-Col. Daniel McLeod and Captain Shamus Allen.

The western pilots will escort Santa to the border with Alaska before handing off to their American counterparts.

McLeod, who is the commanding officer of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, tells CBC News that while it means being away from his own kids at Christmas, the chance to fly this particular mission was one he didn’t want to miss late in his flying career.

“I wanted to, for my own personal benefit, get the chance to see jolly St. Nick in his sleigh,” McLeod said Thursday. He says his kids “understand that I have a pretty important job to do, both for the defence of Canada but also to escort Santa Claus across the countryside.”

McLeod said that in addition to the CF-18’s modern video targeting pod, which is capable of taking good images at night, he’s going to try to bring along his own personal camera for the flight.

Pilots who have flown the escort missions in previous years report Santa does slow down and wave for the initial interception and identification by the CF-18s. He’s hoping to get a good shot of the otherwise-elusive elf, who has appeared to enjoy posing for the camera during previous missions in previous years.

Interception is part of NORAD's job regardless, McLeod says. "We have to identify and confirm who or what that is that’s flying through our airspace and or approaching our airspace and since Santa will be approaching from across the Atlantic, we have a fairly good idea that it’s him but we don’t take any chances."

Meeting Santa is special, but in some ways, it works just like any other interception.

"It’s not that unique in that we’re intercepting a flying object and then tracking it and passing the information on to our higher headquarters," he admits.

The CF-18 pilots are planning to wave their fighter jet wings as a sign of respect for St. Nicholas.

“After that he’s going to be back down to business. He’s got to go down a lot of chimneys,” McLeod says.

In the past, Santa has chosen to fly at an altitude of between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, NORAD says, which avoids too much climbing and descending. Any higher, and things would get pretty cold for him, not to mention posing other dangers.

“Part of the reason we escort Santa is not only out of a sign of respect … but it’s also for his own safety,” McLeod says. “We’re monitoring civilian air traffic, so if he was up much higher that could be a concern.”

"We've got your six," Landry assures Santa Claus in NORAD’s video, which McLeod explains is how a fighter jet pilot commits to looking after his wingman.

“Fighters always travel in at least pairs,” he says, “you’ve always got someone who is ‘checking your six,’ who is checking behind you, making sure nobody is sneaking up behind you to do you harm.”

McLeod will be speaking with his colleagues as well as other military planners over the weekend to make final arrangements for the mission. They'll be checking weather forecasts and making sure spare planes are ready in case any difficulties arise.

Because of the vast distances, the CF-18 pilots will be refuelled mid-air by their colleagues from 435 Squadron Winnipeg and 437 Squadron Trenton.

“Particularly when we get to some of the larger cities – like Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon – that’s where we’re going to be able to do some of our refuelling,” McLeod says. “We know that he’s going to be very preoccupied delivering presents to that many homes [close together] … one of our jets will be getting refuelling while the other one is monitoring over the city.”

“He’s going to be moving so fast from house to house, I have to be honest, we won’t be able to keep track of him,” McLeod admits, pointing out that Santa flies at a speed of one T – the twinkling of an eye – while his plane is limited to all the regular laws of physics.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to keep up with him from one large centre to another,” he admits. “His momentary stops on rooftops will be in a blink of an eye for us.”

Asked whether he's been a good boy this year, McLeod said, "absolutely."

NORAD says the escort is provided “as a matter of respect and courtesy,” not because of any specific operational concerns they’re prepared to disclose.

“Remember that Santa's been doing this a long time,” says Capt. Wright Eruebi, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Air Forces 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg. “He knows what he's doing.”

A separate news release issued by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office Friday confirmed what many may have expected: Santa is a “well-known traditionalist” who “has not yet adopted GPS technology, preferring the instincts of his reindeer.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded to CBC News' request for comment on this story in verse, which read in part:

"As Santa and the elves load up his sleigh, Canadian pilots and NORAD prepare to track his way.

The reindeer are quick led by Rudolph's red nose, so our pilots fly fast as everyone knows!

As our planes get close to make sure Santa's alright, his jolly laugh always warms up the night."

The Harper government’s controversial purchase of replacements for the aging CF-18 fleet may give the Canadian pilots tasked with Santa’s escort duty even better tools to track Santa in the future, including stealth capability to keep from drawing too much attention to Santa’s flight.

NORAD spokespeople won’t comment on the replacement of the fighter jets, saying it’s of a “political nature.”

“I can assure you that Santa feels the same way,” Capt. Wright Eruebi, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Air Force's 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg. “He is happy to be escorted, no matter which aircraft we fly.”


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1 posted on 12/23/2012 10:42:08 AM PST by Squawk 8888
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To: Clive; exg; Alberta's Child; albertabound; AntiKev; backhoe; Byron_the_Aussie; Cannoneer No. 4; ...
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.

Canada Ping!

2 posted on 12/23/2012 10:45:24 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (True North- Strong Leader, Strong Dollar, Strong and Free!)
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To: Squawk 8888

how many “free Obamaphones” can it carry?


3 posted on 12/23/2012 10:46:43 AM PST by faithhopecharity
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To: Squawk 8888
I call this story BS! There's no way a CF-18 can even come close to flying at starlight speed.........

But on the other hand, maybe Santa knows this and slows down so they can keep up, you know, kinda like letting them think they're really in the game.

4 posted on 12/23/2012 10:51:35 AM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: Squawk 8888

Not to sound like a Scrooge but are we really spending our defense dollars on this???


5 posted on 12/23/2012 10:51:59 AM PST by ObozoMustGo2012
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To: Hot Tabasco
Pilots who have flown the escort missions in previous years report Santa does slow down and wave for the initial interception and identification by the CF-18s. He’s hoping to get a good shot of the otherwise-elusive elf, who has appeared to enjoy posing for the camera during previous missions in previous years.
6 posted on 12/23/2012 10:56:38 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro can't pass E-verify)
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To: ObozoMustGo2012
Norad has tracked Santa for decades. It's the only time most people hear about the North American Air Defense command that spends every hour of every day watching for us and protecting us.

Get over it.

God bless the men that fly and fight.

/johnny

7 posted on 12/23/2012 10:57:07 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: faithhopecharity

You can track Santa on your smart phones!


8 posted on 12/23/2012 11:01:19 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: JRandomFreeper; ObozoMustGo2012

Yep, I remember when I was a kid the local radio station (CFRB Toronto) would air regular updates from NORAD on Christmas Eve. It was one of the highlights of the season.


9 posted on 12/23/2012 11:04:58 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (True North- Strong Leader, Strong Dollar, Strong and Free!)
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To: Squawk 8888

Someone calculated that Santa would combust from the windburn incurred by visiting all the Christian kids in the world.


10 posted on 12/23/2012 11:10:26 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Biggirl

I’m just an old-fashioned worker type person who buys pretty much only what we actually need. However that’s such wonderful news that I will go get my free Obamasmartphone so I can track Santa, too. Yippee! (Thanks)


11 posted on 12/23/2012 11:11:11 AM PST by faithhopecharity
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To: JRandomFreeper

It’s a clever and light hearted publicity trick.

When was the Rudolph song penned? I think Norad is older than that. The Sleigh used to be only eight RP until Rudolph joined the crew.


12 posted on 12/23/2012 11:12:16 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: faithhopecharity

Obamaphones are still dumbphones the last I checked.


13 posted on 12/23/2012 11:14:24 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
From Wikipedia"

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a song written by Johnny Marks based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company.

In 1939 Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May, created Rudolph as an assignment for Montgomery Ward and Marks decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into a song. Marks (1909–1985), was a radio producer who also wrote several other popular Christmas songs.

The song was sung commercially by crooner Harry Brannon on New York City radio in early November 1949, before Gene Autry's recording hit No. 1 in the U.S. charts the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only chart-topping hit to fall completely off the chart after reaching No. 1. The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No. 1 song of the 1950s. Autry's recording sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling a total of 25 million, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

14 posted on 12/23/2012 11:21:30 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (True North- Strong Leader, Strong Dollar, Strong and Free!)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
1939 is when Rudolph came out. BTW, shame they never made the Avro Arrow, would be cool to escort Sanata with some of them. I have a soft spot for the CF-100 Canuck too:


15 posted on 12/23/2012 11:23:49 AM PST by Nowhere Man (I miss you Whitey! (4-15-2001 - 10-12-2012). Take care, pretty girl!)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


16 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:02 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


17 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:05 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


18 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:05 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


19 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:05 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


20 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:07 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Sorry, Rudolph song is older, and the story that much more!


21 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:07 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Squawk 8888
Unfortunately, the canadian plane escorting last year actually struck a reindeer. This is video of that, and the results.
22 posted on 12/23/2012 11:25:45 AM PST by Lazamataz (LAZ'S LAW: As an argument with liberals goes on, the probability of being called racist approaches 1)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

slipping in the oil and prancing on the POST button?


23 posted on 12/23/2012 11:27:45 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: Squawk 8888

Monkey Wards!


24 posted on 12/23/2012 11:29:24 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
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To: ObozoMustGo2012

Defensed dollars, my little Ebenezer? Nah.

“NORAD Tracks Santa relies on corporate sponsorship, and is financed by neither American nor Canadian taxpayers.”

Chances are real C-18’s aren’t deployed for this specific purpose, but please don’t let on to Lt.-Col. McLeod’s tykes, eh.


25 posted on 12/23/2012 11:34:14 AM PST by green pastures (Cynicism-- it's not just for breakfast anymore...)
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To: Nowhere Man
1939 is when Rudolph came out.

Ah, now we find out the _real_ reason why all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names...
26 posted on 12/23/2012 11:38:00 AM PST by green pastures (Cynicism-- it's not just for breakfast anymore...)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

Wow, was that a quint???


27 posted on 12/23/2012 11:44:53 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Here comes bama claus here comes bama claus left down bama claus lane!)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

It’s called “GD IPad isn’t responding to my touches” - no feedback that I pressed anything after I typed. Seems it may be showing some problems the last few days.


28 posted on 12/23/2012 12:06:15 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

Isn’t that cool? Why did we never hear that even when Wards was still around?


29 posted on 12/23/2012 12:08:26 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: Squawk 8888
You serious Clark?


30 posted on 12/23/2012 12:18:20 PM PST by SamAdams76
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To: Squawk 8888

Didn’t you all know that Obama promised to have Santa Claus shot down over Canada, so the USA and Canada would go to war. Seems Obama does not want any competition from someone whom gives away free stuff!


31 posted on 12/23/2012 12:27:54 PM PST by hondact200 (Candor dat viribos alas (sincerity gives wings to strength) and Nil desperandum (never despair))
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To: Squawk 8888

They better be carefull Santa is a tough guy.... Break into every kids house in the world in one night and never get caught .....

Gonna leave him a fifth of jack and a 72oz steak instead of cookies and milk.

I was stationed with the CAF folks from Cold Lake during Desert Shield / Storm in 90/91 . Good people.

Merry Christmas !


32 posted on 12/23/2012 12:31:09 PM PST by Squantos ( Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet ...)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

Wow! How’s your supply of eggnog holding out?


33 posted on 12/23/2012 1:09:15 PM PST by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: ObozoMustGo2012
Not to sound like a Scrooge but are we really spending our defense dollars on this???

No.
The Canadians are.
God bless their li'l ol' maple leafs.

34 posted on 12/23/2012 1:17:50 PM PST by publius911 (Look for the Union Label -- then buy something else)
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To: faithhopecharity

“how many “free Obamaphones” can it carry?”

Classified. However, Fox News estimates between 400 and 500 thousand phones or the number of obama votes exceeding 100% in Philadelphia.


35 posted on 12/23/2012 1:30:59 PM PST by EQAndyBuzz (You can't bring something to its knees that refuses to stand on its own)
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To: EQAndyBuzz

Yeah. Philadelphia’s been “transformed” from the cracked liberty bell to crack cocaine.


36 posted on 12/23/2012 1:48:00 PM PST by faithhopecharity
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To: publius911
I am absolutely certain that the “Santa Claus escort mission” is part of ongoing training/readiness missions. It is a Christmas press release attached to normal RCAF flight activities designed to show the RCAF and NORAD in a positive light.
37 posted on 12/23/2012 1:53:25 PM PST by Former Proud Canadian (Obamanomics-We don't need your stinking tar sands oil, we'll just grow algae.)
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To: Squawk 8888

Looking forward to the delivery of some fresh reindeer meat.


38 posted on 12/23/2012 1:58:46 PM PST by PAR35
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To: Former Proud Canadian

http://www.noradsanta.org/
http://www.noradsanta.org/en/why.html

This is a tradition that has been going on for years. I have been a “santa tracker” before and it is a blast, answering phone calls from around the world on where Santa is at that precise moment. The competition to get to volunteer to answer the phones is stiff. Have your kids call 1-877-HI-NORAD to talk with a Santa tracker.


39 posted on 12/23/2012 2:25:46 PM PST by redlegplanner ( No Representation without Taxation)
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To: Squawk 8888

The grandkids and I enjoy this every year. I love the way the pilots play right along and get so involved. The kids believe it and get so excited.
Now, if Santa could only bring our air crews a new ride. Super Hornets maybe?


40 posted on 12/23/2012 2:33:14 PM PST by Dartman
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To: redlegplanner

Great link! That’s a major dose of serendipity.


41 posted on 12/23/2012 2:38:03 PM PST by Squawk 8888 (True North- Strong Leader, Strong Dollar, Strong and Free!)
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To: Nowhere Man
The duty to escort Santa across Canada was once prosecuted by none other than the super-hero of the RCAF, THE RED KNIGHT, shown below.

solo, aerobatics performer of the Royal Canadian Air Force's Training Command from 1958 through 1969, the role of the Red Knight was actually shared by seventeen different pilots over a period of twelve seasons.

The Red Knight was appointed because he was a dogfight aerobatics expert, I saw him do a verticle climb in a Scarlet T-33 from about 30 feet off the runway at RCAF base Summerside in July of 1964, on take off, it left a large torch mark on the runway. I was 15 years old at the time, never forgot it, if the thing had flamed out due to over throttle, he would have died right there, but she hit full throttle with a huge bang and kicked herself to 1000 feet in just 4 seconds:

Photobucket

42 posted on 12/23/2012 2:56:01 PM PST by Candor7 (Obama fascism article:(http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html))
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To: Former Proud Canadian
I am absolutely certain that the “Santa Claus escort mission” is part of ongoing training/readiness missions.

What, you're saying you doubt the authenticity of the Santa escorts?????.....what a hoser!

43 posted on 12/23/2012 4:08:04 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: Squawk 8888

The Iranian’s with the Russian SAS missiles are going to be a problem.


44 posted on 12/23/2012 4:29:07 PM PST by Rebelbase
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To: Squawk 8888

45 posted on 12/23/2012 5:47:38 PM PST by TornadoAlley3 (Obama is everything Oklahoma is not.)
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