06:01 GMT15 August 2020
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    Every year, the North American Aerospace Command, an American and Canadian bi-national organization responsible for providing aerospace warnings, air sovereignty and protection for Northern America, tracks Santa (yes, he exists) using its “NORAD Tracks Santa” initiative.

    "NORAD is well-known for its ability to track Santa," US Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, NORAD's commander, said in a recent video.

    "And if we can track Santa, you can imagine what else we can track," he added. 

    According to NORAD, the Santa-tracking mission was formed in 1958. To this day, satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters track Santa as he journeys around the globe.

    "Every year on December 24, 1,500 volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and emails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided through the NORAD Tracks Santa website (in seven languages), over telephone lines and by e-mail to keep curious children and their families informed about Santa's whereabouts and if it's time to get to bed," NORAD writes on its website.

    For the past few weeks, Santa, who travels at the speed of "starlight," has been flying practice runs in Colorado.

    Elves, along with, ahem, Air Force Operators, have been tracking weather conditions, flight patterns, altitude and speed, just to ensure that Santa's journey is going smoothly.

    "NORAD's integrated ground & space systems are so powerful, they can even detect the red glow from Rudolph's nose and the metal that makes up Santa's sleigh!" according to the official NORAD Santa Tracker Twitter account.

    ​The tradition started 63 years ago, when a Sears store near the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado advertised a direct number for children to wish Santa well.

    "‘Hey, Kiddies!' the ad began next to a headshot of Santa. ‘Call me direct…. Just dial….' Unfortunately, that wasn't Santa's phone number. It went directly to the commander-in-chief's operations hotline at CONAD, Continental Air Defense Command, the forerunner of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado," NORAD describes on its website.

    The Continental Air Defense Command's director of operations, Harry Shoup, "a Christmas-spirited officer," saw an "opportunity in this child's call." And so, after his staff members checked the radar and tracked down Santa, the Christmas tradition was born.


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