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No Go. . .But a Good Try Before Turning Back
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November 9, 2009: Migration Day 25

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration


Yesterday's WSE winds did indeed swing around to come out of the NNW during the wee hours of this morning. After doing a test flight, the team decided to give it a try with Joe as lead pilot (photo). A crowd at the flyover site watched the trikes circling and got a glimpse of Joe with a string of birds (photo) off his wing. But little did they know the difficulties the birds were battling on high: At 200 feet altitude the air got rough and, at 58 degrees F, even warmer than it was on the ground. The warm and humid air made it tough for the cranes to breathe and keep themselves cool as they worked hard at climbing to catch the aircraft. Adding to the problems, the rough air meant they couldn’t get any benefit from the ultralight’s wing. Joe later wrote, "We circled several times gaining altitude on one pass, and losing it all on the next. For 20 minutes they formed on the wing, then broke for home, then reformed over the pen as the swamp monsters paraded below. We made another attempt, but as they climbed to catch the wing all of them were breathing with beaks open. Even if we could work them up another 400 feet to smooth air, we had an hour to go and the conditions were deteriorating quickly. Eager to follow if we were heading home, they all formed on the wing and landed with the aircraft in perfect unison." Instead of celebrating Stopover #6, they had to turn back for down-day in #4 in Winnebago County, Illinois.

Using a cellular aircard to broadcast the feed on the CraneCam means limits. On down-days, the camera will be on for about 3 hours each morning, beginning soon after sunrise and 1 hour each late afternoon (between 3:30 - 4:30) for roost check. The rest of the time you can watch the archived clips that are captured each day.

In the Classroom

  • Examine the trike in the photo above. You will know the pilot by looking at the N number on the body of the trike. (a) Whose name is also on that side of the trike? Why is it there, in a place of honor? Find out here. (b-for-bonus) What examples are in your own community of naming places or things in honor of someone?

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