Sleigh Test Flights

North Pole Navy Anchors Tests in the Atlantic

With test flights stalled over the Atlantic we have learned a few new details about why it is not moving at this time: adjustments to the design of the sleigh, coupled by a delay in building against that updated design has slowed down the tests.

“There are a couple of things going on right now that we’ve told you about,” Elf Buck Sanchez, Operations Director at North Pole Flight Command said. “We have reindeer that need to get some rest, we have a new sleigh design update that needs a build out, we need certain kinds of weather to fly in — all of these things have compounded the slow down in test flights. This is actually kind of normal for this time of the year.”

The North Pole Navy is anchored in the mid-Atlantic to help support test flight operations. They too say what is happening is normal. “It’s a weird thing to think of elves on a ship,” said Captain Henry Despain, of the Merry Wanderer, a sleigh craft carrier that is part of the North Pole Navy. “But those test pilots are here, as are some of the reindeer, and we’re taking good care of them.”

There are four total ships working to support test flight operations over the Atlantic. Two other ships are awaiting future activity in the South Pacific. No word yet and when flight operations might shift to that part of the world.

Flights Over the Atlantic

Test Flights to Remain Over the Atlantic

Flight engineers overseeing the test flights of Santa’s sleigh say that operations will remain over the Atlantic ocean for the next several days.

They are not saying why the sleigh tests won’t be moving to another part of the world anytime soon.

We did speak with famed test pilot Elf Vernon, an elf with many years of test flight experience.

“It is still quite early in the season,” Vernon said. “It is hard with the shifting seasons to find the right kind of weather to test the sleigh. The Atlantic is a famously moody body of water to fly over with all kinds of weather evident. By keeping it over the water they can put the flights through several kinds of tests that other parts of the world may not offer quite yet.”

It is also difficult at this time to pinpoint where flight planners are going to send the test flights next.

“We hear through the North Pole Post Office that fans want to be able to see Santa’s sleigh, either day or night,” Elf Doris Snapp, a sleigh traffic controller in Flight Command said. “We get it. We’d like to send the sleigh to places where people can see it in action. But our work right now needs to focus on practical situations. We keep their desires in mind though. Where we can send the sleigh over populated areas, we will when we can.”

I expect more news about the immediate future of the test flights any day now.

More Reindeer

Reindeer Fatigue Becoming an Issue

Reindeer fatigue is setting in among the teams of reindeer being used for test flights of Santa’s sleigh. Since early August sleighs have been in flight almost constantly, with reindeer and test pilots often working as long as 12 hours at a time.

“We only requested about 3400 reindeer, thinking Santa’s other reindeer would be starting to show up by now,” said Elf Buck Sanchez, Operations Director at North Pole Flight Command. “We need to give these teams some rest. So we have sent in a request for some reindeer relief.”

It should be noted that all of these reindeer working the test flights are specially chosen for this duty. They are used to a rigorous schedule. None of them are injured or in poor health at this time.

Santa’s sleigh continues flights over the mid-Atlantic this week.

Test Flights

Sleigh Test Flights Headed Over North America

The test flights of Santa’s sleigh are headed over North America over the next several days. Engineers are transitioning the sleigh to the skies over the waters of the active Atlantic hurricane season.

“Yes, we’re headed for these active Atlantic storm systems on purpose,” said Flight Engineer Elf Miles Hansen, a designer who has played a big part in this year’s sleigh. “We need strong winds and heavy weather and a hurricane or two will fit the bill just fine.”

Yes, these are dangerous flights. Sleigh test pilots train for extreme conditions and are up to the challenge of the test. Nevertheless, the North Pole Navy is also transitioning to mid-Atlantic waters to serve as a safety backup.

“We won’t actually see the sleigh in flight over the Atlantic ocean until sometime next week,” Elf Miles said. “We have to clear North America first and there are some things we want to accomplish over the continent. We will be doing flights over land in the next several days, but mostly late at night. Some of these will be dark tests, where the sleigh cannot be seen. However, we also have slated some special tests require lights for more accurate data acquisition. That will possibly make the sleigh visible. We do not have a precise location yet for these lighted tests.”

The test flights over North America that he is talking about require a certain level of winds and even storm activity. Engineers are meeting with North Pole weather forecasters to determine best locations. It should be noted as well that the North Pole wants to avoid areas out west where fires are being fought, as well as major metropolitan airports where regular plane activity is high.

We will try to keep you posted.