New York Air National Guard Will "Track Santa" on Christmas Eve

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New York Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Lawrence Brooks, an air surveillance technician at EADS, mans the monitor tracking Santa’s descent from the North Pole.

ROME, NY (12/22/2010)(readMedia)-- New York Air National Guardsmen from the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) will once again play a key role Friday night as the North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa Claus and his reindeer around the world.

"NORAD has supported Santa Claus' Christmas Eve operations for more than 50 years and we are always delighted to participate," said Col. John Bartholf, EADS commander. "I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with this critical mission."

EADS' Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) will monitor Santa constantly as he travels across the eastern U.S. delivering toys and gifts.

Major Fred Janack, the Christmas Eve mission control commander, said a radar monitor mission will be conducted on Santa's sleigh, providing the SOCC with continuous location updates. In addition, EADS-controlled fighter aircraft also will be prepared to assist, and in case of poor flying weather, EADS will provide the jolly old elf with navigation and guidance.

Children – and grown-ups – interested in watching Santa's progress on Dec. 24 can sign onto the NORAD Tracks Santa web site at

The current Santa Tracking System employs the Google Earth program and can provide an update of Santa's location at all times. The web site also offers daily updates from the North Pole and a look at the work going in Santa's village as he gears up for the big night.

The Santa tracking tradition started in 1955, when a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement encouraging local children to call Santa listed an incorrect phone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number went into to the Continental Air Defense Command's operations hotline. Col. Harry Shoup, the operations director, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given location updates and a tradition was born.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created the bi-national air defense command North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

The Eastern Air Defense Sector is headquartered at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome.

Staffed by active-duty New York Air National Guardsmen and a Canadian Forces detachment, the unit supports the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM) homeland defense mission. EADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the eastern United States and directs a variety of assets to defend one million square miles of land and sea.