KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – While many are enjoying a night off for the holidays, an elite group at Kingsley Field is busy on special assignment.
The operation is carried out deep in an underground bunker.
“This crew goes through an intense six-month training,” Air Force Sergeant Jacob Carpenter explained. “We start in July when the traffic is fairly limited at the North Pole.”
Senior Airman Gracen Moore said, “It’s a very rigorous training process. They have to go up to the North Pole, they have an obstacle course you have to run, actually.”
Secrecy and security are keys to a safe trip for Santa. When asked about how Santa carries so many toys on his sleigh, Lieutenant Ben Fischer said, “That is classified technology right now, but I can say that it does include time-space folding.”
Moore said, “The technology is insane. I can’t say too much on it, but it’s pretty cool.”
A supply of hot chocolate and candy canes helps keep the team alert.
Many of the airmen have been tracking Santa for over a decade. Some of the airmen say they’ve been recognized from their TV coverage.
Senior Master Sgt. Jason Patrick said he’s kind of a celebrity in town for being able to track Santa “Especially with the kids,” he explained. “They see me, and they’re like, ‘’Mom, that’s the guy that tracks Santa!’ So it’s kind of fun.”
But it’s all business once Santa approaches the airspace.
Night flight training pays dividends for the pilots escorting Santa.
Sergeant Carpenter said, “The F-15s are incredibly capable jets, they are ridiculously fast. However, Santa is just a little bit faster.”
The volunteer duty does have a payoff as a Christmas card is discovered. It read, “Dear 173rd Fighter Wing, I want to thank each and every one of you for helping me spread the magic and love of Christmas. Love, Santa.”
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