and Cranes Grounded by Winds
After a big jump and a long day yesterday, everyone needs a rest! Strong winds are providing it. Joe tells about yesterday, toward the end of the flight when the weather turned bad:
"As we neared our destination, we found ourselves at 200 feet in heavy rain and turbulence. Fifteen birds stayed on the wing while another followed at tree-top level as we covered the last five miles. Brooke arrived first. He landed in a cultivated field that looked smooth, and I followed him in. Richard was a few miles back nursing a couple of birds along, when his GPS quit for lack of batteries. He was on course and picked a spot on the horizon to fly to before the screen went blank. Luckily when he reached that spot, he could see the field where Brooke, Chris and I struggled with our aircraft in the wind. We tied down the aircraft long enough to walk the birds away and soon realized our mistake. The soil in these fields has a high clay content that turns to glue when you add water. As we walked, our boots became heavier with each step.
"We covered 116 miles on this trip, and left our ground crew far behind. They had to pack up the pen, load it onto a trailer, and drive for over 3 hours on winding Kentucky back roads to find us. All this time the rain beat down and we stood with the birds in the muck and the mire. We were concerned that if it kept raining we would never get our aircraft out, so one at a time, we started up and took off while the others watched the birds. The mud was so thick that it packed around the wheels and inside the wheel pants until the tires could not turn. When Chris tried, he couldn’t even move with all the mud, and I had to help by pulling on the front.
"After four hours of standing in pouring rain we finally walked the birds into the pen at 2:30 in the afternoon. We were soaked through and covered in mud. Brooke had cut his finger and the front of his costume was now pink. We had intended to fly our aircraft 12 more miles to store them in a hanger. But with the wind, the mud, and the wet pilots that was out of the question. We tied them down and headed south to the home of one of our supporters in Cumberland County, Tennessee, where we knew hot showers and our first meal of the day waited."
Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).
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