Personality and History
Migration Training: He came to Wisconsin for flight school on June 27 in cohort one, the 8 oldest chicks. All these chicks were first to flap, hop, and skip as they tore out of their pen to follow the ultralight during practice. Soon #610 was taking longer strides and leaps, and then getting off the ground. By August 15 he was flying up to 10 minutes in large circles over a big pool at the refuge without getting tired. At the end of August his group showed what great fliers they are. They flew behind the ultralight over a noisy highway without freaking out. They just pulled together in tighter formation and flew for over 30 minutes!
Oct. 29: The pilots love the lack of top wires with the new topless wings because it allows the lead birds to fly over the ultralight plane if they want to, without danger of becoming caught in the wing wires. Crane #610 is a bird who wants to surf the leading edge of the aircraft wing - which is a beautiful sight to the pilot - but it's hard for the pilot because the bird's presence along the leading edge causes the wing to buffet and do a gentle stall. Today #610 was doing this with Joe!
Nov. 1: The eager birds took off today with pilot Joe, who said: "As expected, #610 took up the lead position. For the first few miles he behaved himself. Once we reached 1000 feet, he got bored and began to play." Find out More.
"Seldom content to follow, 610 constantly charges ahead to challenge the aircraft for the leadership. Most often he moves to the opposite wing from the rest of the birds and when he flies in front of the leading edge Joe can feel the pulse of his wing beats. "He is so predictable that I could monitor the birds on my left wing and know 610 was still on my right simply by the feel."
Jan. 12, Moving Day: Yesterday he (and 11 others) made it only about halfway. The tired or stubborn birds spent the night in a travel pen and tried again on Jan. 12. In calm air and clear skies, all 12 birds who hadn't cooperated yesterday took off with Joe. Joe tell's about today's flight with 610, his personal favorite:
morning, on our last flight together, he was in
his usual place. We were not airborne
10 minutes when he was up to his usual tricks
so I let
him lead us to the pen. We circled the pen, slowly losing altitude. Sara
was on the ground and we used her white costume
as our target. We slowed just like
we were landing. The birds dropped their legs in
preparation and just as we were about to touch
down I added full power and climbed out as hard
as I could. . .but one bird continued to fly while
all the others landed.
"Chick #610 is one of the birds that made the entire trip to Florida under his own steam. He never dropped out and had to be crated, and never refused to follow us," said Joe after the final flight.
Feb. 2, 2006: Crane 610 died when violent storms moved through central Florida during the night, killing all 17 chicks in the pen at Chass. Only #615 somehow managed to escape.
Last updated: 2/4/07
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