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FAA Spreads Holiday Cheer by Clearing Santa Claus for Flight

FAA Spreads Holiday Cheer by Clearing Santa Claus for Flight
Joe Cortez

For the first time in agency history, the Federal Aviation Administration is offering Father Christmas a special flight and launch permission over the U.S. airspace. The experimental reindeer-powered sleigh aircraft will have authority to engage in interstate air-cargo-delivery to American homes and the International Space Station.

When carolers sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the Federal Aviation Administration is giving it an extra special meaning this year. In a press release, the airspace authority is giving Father Christmas “special operating authority to engage in interstate air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States on Christmas Eve,” and even the International Space Station.

Santa’s Sleigh Ride Serves as a Reminder of Aviation Safety Tips

In their announcement, the FAA is reminding the public of the role aviation is playing in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Although Santa will be given special authority, the agency notes “he wholeheartedly agrees with the FAA decision to give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other cargo critical to the nation’s response to the ongoing public health emergency.”

The FAA is also asking the public to be safe around airplanes, especially when using drones and laser pointers. Using drones around flying aircraft can be distracting to pilots, and “will scare the reindeer.” In addition, laser pointers and laser-light holiday displays pointed skyward can temporarily blind pilots.

Of course, the FAA notes that Santa will be following the agency’s FlyHealthy protocol. This includes wearing a face covering on his flight, “to set a good example for everyone who is traveling by air this holiday season.”

“We are pleased to help Santa safely navigate through the National Airspace System to bring his unique and universal brand of good will and joy to children and adults of all ages—even to those orbiting the Earth,” FAA administrator Steve Dickson said in a press release.  “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.”

This year, Santa will also get a special commercial space license to deliver presents to the International Space Station. The FAA notes that the mission license will include “both launch and re-entry operations,” and will take place from a U.S.-based facility.

Families Can Track Santa with NORAD Over Christmas

In what has become a 65-year-tradition, families and young flyers will be able to track Santa’s international trip with the help of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). From their dedicated website, flyers can chat with radar operators, get real-time updates on the famous flight, and even call NORAD to get the most up-to-date information.

From all of us at FlyerTalk, we wish you a joyful holiday season, with peace on Earth and goodwill towards everyone. We hope the new year will bring safe travels, open borders and clear skies for all of us!

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