Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of Note to Self, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get Note to Self shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
FAA, NORAD Plan for Santa's Flight
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 04:43 PM
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Santa is cleared for take off and he'll be tracked by NORAD, too (see video above).
In the federal government's yearly foray into fantastical Christmas fun, both aviation agencies have issued press releases about the most awaited (at least by children) aircraft of the year. Not only is Santa's sleigh is approved to enter American airspace, but, the agencies say, air traffic control, NextGen technology and other transportation technology will make his flight smoother, facilitating his crucial mission. It's child-focused outreach on behalf of the work of government, and a transportation teaching moment.
“Santa’s cockpit display will help improve his situational awareness by showing him and his reindeer flight crew their precise location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “NextGen will help make this an extra-safe Christmas Eve.”
"...when air traffic controllers working the North Pole clear Santa One for landing now, Santa will be gliding down onto rooftops. This will be faster, save fuel and guarantee that presents are delivered up to 53 percent faster than in previous years. "
The North American Regional Aerospace Defense command—a serious military agency charged with detecting and responding to a potential missile strike or other airborne attacks—treats this yearly publicity opportunity in an appropriate tongue and cheek teaching style. "NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets." Followed shortly in their "how we track Santa" section with: "Amazingly, Rudolph’s bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa." They've also created an interactive website of Santa's village with games like Santa's Bureau of Investigation.
NORAD's "about Santa" section explains what advanced technology has discerned about how he touches down on every house in the world in one night, "the fact that Santa Claus is more than 16 centuries old, yet does not appear to age, is our biggest clue that he does not work within time as we know it."
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