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Airborne, Then Turned Back (+ 0 Miles )
November 17, 2008: Migration Day 32

Photo Joe Duff, Operation Migration

No. Yes. No. Even before dawn broke this morning the team could feel fierce and icy northwest (NW) winds blowing away any chance of flight today. They sent the NO GO announcement.. .and then the winds STOPPED! Yes! Chris and his trike took off for a test flight. He climbed to 1000 feet in search of some favorable air. “It’s not perfect, but I think it might be do-able,” he radioed the anxious team on the ground. The team agreed: If the birds showed signs of not cooperating, or not being able to handle the bumpy air, the trikes would turn back before the 5-mile mark so the birds wouldn’t have to fight the NW winds for long to get back to the pen.

The ground crew scurried to the pen as the pilots warmed up their trikes on the runway. Chris, today’s lead pilot, gave the signal and the costumed crew released the birds. They rushed out and 11 were almost immediately on Chris’s wing. Eventually the other three became airborne and the chase trikes moved in to lead them. But soon the main group of birds turned. They left Chris on his own — and the "rodeo" began as they tried to round up the birds and get them back into the pen. Soon all the trikes and birds were safely put away for a dismal day 7 in Winnebago County. "We consoled ourselves with the fact that the birds at least had some exercise — and favorable winds are forecast for tomorrow," reported Liz.

In the Classroom

  • Today's Journal Questions:
    (a) When have you had a good start but then a disappointment when things didn't work out as you planned?
  • (b-for-bonus) How did the team show that the birds were the Number One priorty when making today's decisions? What reasons might have caused the birds to turn back to their pen?


Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).
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