Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

December 12, 2006 10:35 ET

Canadian NORAD Region Names Santa Claus Escort Pilots

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 12, 2006) - Four fighter pilots Capt. Forrest Rock and Lieut.-Col. Patrice Laroche, of 3 Wing Bagotville and Capt. Dan Walters and Maj. Chris Hamilton of 4 Wing Cold Lake, are this years official escort pilots for Santa Claus while he visits Canada during his annual Christmas Eve trip around the world.

Canadian fighter pilots will gather the first pictures of Santa and his sleigh as he arrives over the continent using special NORAD SantaCams mounted on their aircraft.

The Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing North Bay, Ont., alerts NORAD when Santa is entering Canadian airspace. Two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing meet Santa as he enters Canadian air space off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Santa flies across North America from east to west, two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing escort him out of Canadian airspace to continue his Yuletide trip.

At Santa's request, millions of curious children will be able to closely follow his progress by viewing digital photographs and technical information compiled by NORAD on their Internet site: Santa has communicated to NORAD that he intends to begin his journey at 4 a.m. EST, Dec. 24th. At that time, NORAD's tracking data will be translated into streaming audio and video updates and posted to the web site's radar map. All of this information is available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Children have been visiting the website since its launch in 1998 to view information about Santa that NORAD experts have collected over the years such as Santa's favourite snacks and how NORAD's satellites detect Rudolph's red nose. Last year, the Web site received 912 million "hits" from 204 countries and territories.

Children can also receive updates on Santa's Christmas Eve journey, by calling the traditional "NORAD Tracks Santa" telephone hotline at 1-877-HI NORAD or by emailing NORAD at The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center, occupied by 550 volunteers on Christmas Eve, answered nearly 55,000 phone calls and nearly 98,240 e-mails from children around the world.

NORAD uses a network of ground-based radars, sensors, air-to-air refuelling tankers, and fighter jets to detect, intercept and, if necessary, engage any threats to the continent. NORAD personnel are on duty 24 hours a day protecting North America.

Note to editors:

To arrange an interview with an escort pilot, please contact:

- 3 Wing Public Affairs, 3 Wing Bagotville, Que. - (418) 677-4000
extension 8277

- 4 Wing Public Affairs, Cold Lake, Alta. - (780) 840-8000,
extension 8121

To arrange an interview with a radar operator, please contact:

- Canadian Air Defence Sector Air Operations Centre,
22 Wing North Bay, Ont. - (705)-494-2011 ext. 2495

Interviews with pilots and radar technicians will be conducted until
Dec 22nd only.

Contact Information

  • Information: 204-833-2500 ext. 6795 or
    204-931-0739 (pager)
    (204) 833-2512 (FAX)
    NORAD Tracks Santa program
    Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters
    Winnipeg, Man.
    204-833-2500 ext. 2029
    NORAD Headquarters
    Colorado Springs, Colo.