“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
– Editorial that appeared in the New York Sun, September 1897
Norad Tracks Santa is an annual Christmas themed entertainment program, which has existed since 1955, produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year on Christmas Eve, “NORAD Tracks Santa” purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. The program is the tradition of the September 1897 editorial “Yes, Virginia, thee is a Santa Claus” in the New York Sun.
Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m.MST on December 25th. A website called NORADSanta.org was established to allow project access for Internet users.
Google Analytics has been in use since December 2007 to analyze traffic website traffic. As a result of this analysis information, the program can project and scale volunteer staffing, telephone equipment, and computer equipment needs for Christmas Eve. Volunteers include NORAD military and civilian personnel.
In 2014, NORAD answered more than 100,000 phone calls. In 2015, more than 1,200 U.S. and Canadian military personnel volunteered to staff the phone lines.
Presently, the Hobby Master S-3 Viking “Santa Tracker” (HA4904), which plays on the program’s activities and features a caricature of Santa’s back as if he had collided with the aircraft, is scheduled to arrive some time in December, although its unclear if it will make it in time for Christmas delivery. Should things change, we will update our web site accordingly and indicate whether or not collectors can count on it as a Christmas present. If you are not keen to have Jolly St. Nick slathered across your warbirds, then a similar plane can be purchased in the form of HA4905.