No one has mastered air travel quite like Santa Claus. He has thirty-one hours (with time changes, daylight savings, etc.) to make it around the world and deliver presents to each and every child. The age-old question begs: can The Man in Red make it?

Here are some facts:

–  He has 31 hours to travel 75.8 million miles around the world, reaching every single house with a child. This equates to 3,000 times the speed of sound.

–  Assuming he does not have a magical bag that reaches back to the North Pole, and that every child receives 1lb of gifts, his sleigh would weigh 321,300 tons. That’s the same as 828 Boeing 777s.

–  In order to reach every child, Santa needs to make 830 visits per second. Our favorite fat man has less than 1/1000th of a second to park his reindeer, shimmy down the chimney, fill stockings, eat cookies, leave presents, and shimmy on up the chimney.

According to my calculations these are Santa’s capabilities:

–  If he used the world’s fastest manned aircraft, the X-15, he could travel 2.02km/second, not calculating the weight of all his presents. (Maybe he could attach his sleigh to the back of the X-15 and be pulled around the world?)

–  If he travels in the Concorde, which is the fastest commercial plane, he can circumnavigate the world in 31 hours. (40,075 km if you just fly a straight line around the equator.) This would put Santa at roughly .35km/second. But, the Concorde is probably more practical for carrying all of the presents, and more comfortable for the long flight!

Remember, this is without magic. Who would want Santa without the sleigh and reindeer anyway?  Everyone knows that Santa’s magic is unparalleled, so of course he can make the trip in time. Part of Christmas magic is not knowing, but believing anyway!

-Ellen Horn

(original Dec-2012)