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Western Air Defense Sector helps track Santa each year


The Western Air Defense Sector of the Air National Guard is proud to partner with North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in tracking Santa Claus’s route across the skies on Christmas Eve each year.

The Western Air Defense Sector, with headquarters at McChord Field , here in Washington State, is the largest of three sectors responsible to the Continental U.S. NORAD  Region (CONR). The Sector's primary mission is "Guarding America's Skies," but the Sector is also able to provide an air picture to help in rescue operations in the event of disasters.

The Western Air Defense Sector is proud to have been a partner in the NORAD Santa tracker for more than 50 years.

The NORAD website explains how the tracker started back on Dec. 24, 1955. Back then, the agency was called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center.

An advertisement in a newspaper printed the wrong number for children to call and ask Santa questions. On duty that night was Colonel Harry Shoup, who has come to be known as the “Santa Colonel.”  Colonel Shoup received numerous calls that night and rather than hanging up, he had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and reported it to every child who phoned in that night, according to NORAD.

Thus began a tradition carried on by the North American Aerospace Defense Command when it was formed in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world. The NORAD Tracks Santa website receives nearly 9  million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world.


To track Santa, visit 

To learn more about the Western Air Defense Sector, visit