(CNN) – The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, is preparing to once again follow Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
“I have twin boys, they’re 11 years old and then of course a group of nieces and nephews, and every year we log onto NORAD to track Santa and so we watch him as he makes his journey around the world,” says Martha Dunning, Superintendent of the Tyndall AFB Air Operations Center.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command is an American and Canadian bi-national organization with the mission of aerospace warning, control, and maritime warning in North America.
But on December 24th, their mission shifts gears to track Santa.
“What usually happens is we’ll pick him up on radar along the northern part of Canada and Alaska,” said Col. Sid Connor of Tyndall Air Force Base.
While NORAD can track him, his path is always unknown.
“His course that he takes is different every year, it depends on the weather a little bit, it depends on kids being asleep as well,” said Connor.
And thanks to NORAD’s technology, Air Force officials tell us they’re able to track Santa so he can travel safely through the skies at night.
“We want to make sure that he’s de-conflicted from anyone else so that no one gets in the way of him spreading his holiday cheer,” said Dunning.
But NORAD didn’t always keep tabs on Santa’s route.
This 64 year tradition happened on accident after a misprint in the newspaper.
“Someone called in, it was actually a mistaken wrong number, thinking that they we’re calling Santa Claus. So that kind of started things off where they thought ‘Well we are in the air defense business, we might as well track Santa as well,'” Dunning said.
And that kicked off a family-friendly tradition for years to come.
To track Santa this year, visit noradsanta.org.