That Time Santa Claus Had a Close Encounter with a US Navy S-3 Viking

That Time Santa Claus Had a Close Encounter with a US Navy S-3 Viking

By Dario Leone
Dec 24 2019
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We’re happy to report that while Santa wasn’t quite his usual jolly self after this too close encounter with S-3 BuNo 160124, he was unhurt and only had the wind knocked out of him.

A tabloid reporter with a cheap camera caught the photos in this post minutes after it happened in 2000.

We’re happy to report that while Santa wasn’t quite his usual jolly self after this too close encounter with S-3 BuNo 160124, he was unhurt and only had the wind knocked out of him (Besides, do you really think a mere airplane can hurt Santa Claus? Come on….).

There was no damage to the sleigh and the reindeer generally escaped unscathed, but the team’s navigational beacon (i.e. Rudolf’s nose) required an adjustment.

That Time Santa Claus Had a Close Encounter with a US Navy S-3 Viking

The Viking crew from Sea Control Squadron 35 (VS-35, the Blue Wolves), deployed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) at the time of the incident, was also unhurt and the aircraft was undamaged.

Lockheed S-3A Viking 160124 C/N 3106 converted to a “B” spent time with VS-21 “Redtails” as NH-701, with VS-35 “Blue Wolves” as NK-700 and with VS-22 “Swordsmen” AC-703. With VS-35 “Blue Wolves” CAG aircraft wore a unique tail paint scheme of a Blue Wolf dressed like an Old West gunslinger wearing a holstered gun. VS-35 gave this CAG Viking a humorous Christmas paint scheme “Santa Tracker” for their cruise in 2002. In 2005 marked as AC-703 160124 arrived at AMARC and 4 months later was SOC.

That Time Santa Claus Had a Close Encounter with a US Navy S-3 Viking

Designed to meet the US Navy’s VSX requirement for an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft to replace the S-2 Tracker, the S-3 was first flown on January 21st, 1972. Designed for long-endurance missions, the aircraft features a wide low-swept wing and under-wing mounted, high-bypass turbofan engines that produce a distinctively low-pitch sound, earning the plane the nickname “Hoover” (after the vacuum cleaner). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ASW role became less significant and the S-3 was increasingly used for surface warfare, surveilance and aerial refuelling missions before being retired from service in 2009.

S-3 Viking Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. S-3B Viking VS-41 Shamrocks, NJ741 / 160136 / 2006

Photo credit: U.S. Navy


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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