Santa Gears Up for Big Night

Santa rappels from a USAF Pave Hawk helicopter during practice exercises for his yearly excursion.

Tonight is a big night for a renowned pilot and his unusual aircraft. There have been several reports that indicate Santa is preparing for his annual round-the-world flight and highlight some innovative additions to his sleigh.

According to Avweb, the FAA reported that this year Santa’s sleigh is sporting the latest in satellite-based NextGen technology. The hope is that Santa’s new toy will allow for increased efficiency and safety by providing Santa and crew with the most accurate location, terrain, and weather data available. Additionally, the new equipment will boost the accuracy with which NORAD can track the world-spanning trek’s progress. Smart phone users with Google Maps for Mobile can track Santa by searching for “Santa.”

Forbes’ Wheels Up blog confirms that Santa is a licensed pilot. For the truly curious, they provide a few sketchy details about how exactly Old Saint Nick came to be a pilot. Apparently, his unique aircraft with an unusual power plant isn’t the most forgiving of flying machines, making for a difficult check ride. Thankfully, he was in fact issued a certificate. Imagine how long his Christmas journey would take without his flying reindeer and sleigh; it would be virtually impossible for Santa to truck all that cargo to its destinations in one night.

Canadian aviation authorities have cleared Santa for his annual flight, but have not confirmed leaked flight plan details which the Toronto Sun is reporting. According to a Transport Canada release, he passed all required examinations despite concerns that long nights filled with endless cookie consumption may have taken their toll on Santa’s physical.
According to the flight plan, pilot S. Claus has filed a 24-hour itinerary from the North Pole for December 24th to numerous destinations including the “homes of all the nice children in the world.”

On a related note, while Santa and his annual trip receive a great deal of the spotlight, aviation professionals world-wide will also be on duty delivering their precious cargo. Whether it be gifts or family members making their way home for the holiday, hundreds of pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, air traffic controllers and other aviation professionals will be hard at work ensuring the safe arrival of the heavily-laden aircraft.

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Sources: Airspace Preps For Santa, Santa Claus Exists And He Is A (Very) Active Pilot, and Santa’s flight plan leaked
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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