Friday, December 24, 2010

And He's OFF!

Well, the jolly ol' guy in the red suit has already done New Zealand, Australia, all of Polynesia, and is currently in Indonesia as we speak.  And we have film, of course.

I love NORAD's annual Christmas exercise and while I don't go ALL the way back to the beginning, I do have some history with the program.  Here's a lil blurb I wrote in 2005:
Back when I was in the radar biz we used to do this sort of thing locally for the families of the guys at the radar sites where I was stationed. Back in the day every USAF long-range aircraft control and warning (AC&W) radar site had a video mapping device that fed programmed exercise video to Operations; the normal output from the video mapper was "canned" and consisted of video blips simulating actual aircraft. The video mapper was used to train ground-control intercept controllers and technicians during the course of “normal” business, but we put that video mapper to a much different use at Christmas. On Christmas Eve we'd load up a special video overlay and route it to the intercept control scopes in Operations. While "exercise" video consisted of fake bogeys (simple blips) and tracks to train intercept controllers and technicians, the special Santa video showed a sleigh and reindeer on the scopes, and of course the sleigh moved…traversing our radar coverage area. Not nearly real, but real enough for the kids that saw it! (And for the adults, too…those willing to “suspend disbelief,” as it were.)

The kids always got a big thrill out of the radar displays. Doing the Santa video was one of the most fun things I ever did while I was a radar guy.
My first Santa tracking experience was at Lompoc Air Force Station during Christmas of 1964.  A lot o' water has passed under the bridge since then, but I still get a kick out of tracking Santa.


  1. I always look forward to you posting this one.

  2. I remember the local tv weather guys doing that back in the day! They would superimpose a white Santa-cum-sleigh silhouette onto the radar scan. Pretty cheesy, but I bought it!

    Our oldest grandchild, now nearly 11, has been tracking Santa via computer since he was old enough to know what the refresh button is. Times have a'changed, no?

    This is great!

  3. I've always gotten a kick out of NORAD's Santa Tracker. I hope it never gets overcome by some PC ne'er do wells.

  4. Andy: Thank ya, Sir... and Merry Christmas!

    Moogie: And sometimes times change for the better, no?

    BR: I think we're safe for the moment, but God only knows what the future holds.

  5. He's still hasn't wrapped all of the presents at my house.

    Merry Christmas, my friend.

  6. I distinctly remember seeing Santa on a radar scope on the Teevee in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Long time ago.

  7. Buck, since you've got history with this deal, could you possibly divert the fat man for a couple of hours?

    I just remembered sumpin' I had forgot to tell him that Pam needed. I reckon it's too late to change his flight, thank God that The WalMart is open all night!

    Merry Christmas, my friend!

    NYUK! wv: buttbs



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