More than a dozen sleighs will be flight tested as elves in the North Pole Research and Development Department work to refine the design of Santa’s sleigh.
“Most people do not realize how much work the design and testing of Santa’s sleigh takes,” said flight director, Elf Buck Sanchez. “They just think Santa hops into the same old sleigh every year and just tells the reindeer to go. It does not work like that at all. Every year Santa is pressed to go faster than the year before and that’s because every year there are more and more believers in Santa. That means the sleigh has to get faster every year, if even by just a little bit. A lot of work goes into to accomplishing that.”
More than a dozen sleighs of the present design are produced and flown for weeks. During the flights notes are taken of what needs to be changed or improved. Each flight is sent on a particular mission. They fly under certain weather conditions, at specified times of the day and in unique locations. On any given day all of those sleighs could be in flight at the same time, testing situations and outcomes.
“We have reindeer and test pilots to feed, train, brief and de-brief,” Elf Sanchez says. “We comb over flight data, watch film of sleighs in flight and interview ground witnesses in the form of professional trackers that we position on the ground as each flight leaves. It is a very comprehensive effort that takes thousands of elves, hundreds of reindeer, and dozens of test pilots – as well as months of time.”
The sad part is that every two weeks a new set of sleighs are produced at the North Pole to replace the current sleighs, which are then destroyed.
“We have to move forward,” explain Elf Quinton Q. Quigley, head elf in Research and Development. “Never look back. The old sleighs are dismantled, never to be flown again. We recycle the material, so there is no loss. But the new design every two weeks is the way forward and we work with it, then start all over again.”