Winnipeg, Man. – The Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Region is set to track and escort Santa Claus during his annual visit to Canada and has selected four CF-18 fighter pilots for the high profile job.
They are Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad, Captain Sébastien Gorelov, Captain Rich Cohen, and Captain Brian Kilroy.
Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad and Captain Sébastien Gorelov of 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing, Bagotville, Que., will conduct the first escort duties to welcome Santa into Canada off Canada’s East Coast. As Santa transits into Western Canada, escort duties will switch over at Canada’s centre-point, near the Ontario-Manitoba border to Captain Cohen and Captain Kilroy of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron of 4 Wing, Cold Lake, Alta.
Special NORAD SantaCams, positioned around the world, will take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh as he journeys around the world. The SantaCams instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children around the world on the NORAD Tracks Santa website at: www.noradsanta.org on December 24. All related information will be available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Mandarin.
As NORAD has done since 1955, its Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ont., will alert NORAD when their radar and satellite systems detect Santa approaching North America. Two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing will launch to welcome Santa into Canadian airspace off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Santa zooms across Canada from east to west, two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing will then takeoff from Cold Lake to meet and relieve the Bagotville fighters of escort duty, ensuring Santa’s voyage through Western Canadian airspace is safe.
On December 24, children can also receive updates on Santa's journey by calling the traditional "NORAD Tracks Santa" telephone hotline at 1-877-HI NORAD (1-877-446-6723), or by emailing NORAD at firstname.lastname@example.org . In 2012, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received over 22 million unique visitors from nearly all the countries and territories around the world. NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page neared 1.2 million followers, and over 129,000 people followed Santa on Twitter. On December 24 alone, NORAD "Santa Trackers" answered more than 114,000 telephone calls and received over 9,000 emails over a 25 hour period.
NORAD is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization, charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. NORAD performs its mission 365 days per year, but on December 24, NORAD performs an additional mission - tracking Santa around the world.