CAF Story | Keeping Santa Safe: A CAF Christmas Story
We always try to intercept Santa as he’s entering the airspace. As we get close, the first thing you see, of course, is Rudolph’s red nose. It’s standing out among the stars because it’s red and shiny, so it’s really easy to spot.
I’m not exactly sure how he does it. We intercepted Santa somewhere on the East Coast. I looked at my watch and it was about midnight, and then we followed Santa around for what‒ what I believe was about two to three hours. And once we got close to where we would hand off Santa to our friends in Cold Lake, I looked at my watch again and it was 12:05 a.m. So, I’m not sure exactly where all that time went, but I can’t explain it.
I am Capt Sébastien Tremblay-Verreault from 3 Wing Bagotville. I escorted Santa in 2016.
For a Canadian fighter pilot, it’s a very important task to escort Santa. It’s a big honour for us to be able to do that.
The speed of the sleigh is highly classified, but we calculated that we needed to fly at about Mach 1.3 to be able to follow Santa around.
Once we got on the wing, we figured out that he’s flying much faster than that and luckily for us, the Hornet is powerful enough to follow Santa around.
Escorting Santa is teamwork. I was in charge to just make sure that Santa was not going to come across any airline route.
In the meantime, my wingman was in position. He was watching the reindeer, making sure they were fine and that not any gifts were dropped from the sleigh.
Once we see that Santa is going to start going from house to house, we establish a combat air patrol around his location. We’re just going in circles, make sure that nobody enters the operation area. And once he’s ready to leave, we join up back on his side and we go to the next settlement.
I think the whole experience was memorable in the sense that initially, we go out there and it’s just a standard intercept for us like we do all the time. But once you get within visual range, seeing Santa for the first time is not like what we see in the books. Santa is… It’s almost magical.
You see the reindeer, they’re really gracious in their movement and Santa has got his beautiful sleigh. In the end, it’s really a vision that you cannot forget ever.
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