Let’s get some things straight: NORAD’s flights take place with the express permission of Santa Claus, who apparently takes a second or two out of his rounds to pause for the flyby.
NORAD, a binational command that defends North America form aerospace threats, has been tracking Santa since 1955 and now has a website dedicated to the work. Millions of kids worldwide use the command’s tracking data to follow Santa on Christmas Eve.
But NORAD’s fastest fight can’t keep up with the sleigh. Unless you’re lucky enough to catch a millisecond rooftop stop, Santa is missile-proof. If you look at his speed, even laser targeting is unlikely.
Can NORAD keep up with the elf?
“No,” command spokesman John Cornelio said.
“Santa does acknowledge and respect us enough that he slows down for a bit so we can fly along side him,” Cornelio said.
“When he permits us to see him and spend some time flying with him, we’re truly grateful,” Cornelio said.
Santa, you see, blazes through the sky nearly 300 times faster than those fighter jets, which top out at Mach 1.8 on full afterburner.
Santa needs all that speed because Earth is home to 1.4 billion households that are on Santa’s list — 208 million on this continent alone.
If the planet’s households were an average of 30 feet apart — close quarters for us in the Rockies, the Elf’s average speed is mind boggling.
How fast? Do the math: Take 1.4 billion households, multiply it by our absurdly close distance of 30 feet (thusly putting the entire Earth population in a cul de sac neighborhood off Powers Boulevard). Then, you take that number and divide by 5,280 to determine miles in a day. The last piece of math is to divide the number you just got by 24, which gives you average speed in miles per hour.
Even while vastly underestimating Santa’s trip (the Pacific is a bit of a commute), the bearded one is traveling at 20 times the speed of satellites.
And that’s average speed — this guy is stopping for a millisecond of two 1.4 billion times to drop off a bit of cheer.
So if you think NORAD is militarizing Christmas, Santa is definitely in on the deal.