I’m sure the question of what kind of aircraft Santa Claus would fly has been pondered in hangars for decades. NORAD tracked Santa again this year, explaining “the only logical conclusion is that Santa functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us do.”
How about an SR71 Blackbird with hovering capabilities? That’s about what comes to mind when sitting around at work on Christmas Eve and Day at an air traffic control (ATC) facility.
Without fail, on these nights, a phantom flight plan will go through ATC facilities with the call sign SANTA1. The four-letter identifier for this “flight” is something like SLEI or SLED, or once even SR71. The more imaginative of those who put in these flight plans include in the remarks “trailing a flight of eight reindeer, non-standard lighting”, the non-standard being the non-aviation red only Rudolph.
I suppose these flight plans would originate in one major city and go to at least one location in each of the nations Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs) at breakneck speeds and make its way around the entire system fairly quickly. Usually there was also some holiday cheer from the originating facility, like “Cleveland Center wishes everyone Happy Holidays.”
The pilots would also get in on the action by saying “ho ho ho” (on Thanksgiving we’d hear the occasional “gobble”) as they were changing frequency, or would call rather interesting traffic in sight. Many of us pilots and controllers don’t work bankers hours and work 24/7/365, might as well have some fun along the way.
Happy new year to all, and to all a good flight.