Bound! (+57 Miles)
December 17, 2009: Migration Day 63
Heather Ray, Operation Migration
calm in Hardin County was a good sign, but a test trike went up at
official sunrise to see if headwinds aloft would permit progress
to the next stop in Franklin County, Alabama (about 57 miles). YESSSSS!
Our cranes and planes were finally Alabama bound! But it was slow
going. Lead pilot Richard later wrote: "Slowly the miles ticked by.
Normally on a good day it's about a mile every minute or minute-and-a-
half. But today it was about three to four minutes per mile; agonizingly
slow. . .but fortunately the birds didn’t seem to notice or
care, which was unusual.
"At times the ground speed slowed down to below 15mph. I would
anxiously look back at the birds, expecting them to turn
back. . .
Determined, we kept on despite the dismal ground speed
crossing the Tennessee river where we found more headwind
and rougher air.
Some birds were beginning to tire, flying with their mouths open,
which made me more aware of potential landing spots. But as we
crossed over the mountainous terrain we came upon a stretch of
that seemed to give us lift, and even though I was trying to descend
to allow the birds some rest, we continued to climb — sometimes
as much as 500 feet per minute. This gave the birds some much needed
rest and soon their mouths closed and we continued to climb. This
worked out to be very advantageous
and we were able to fly a little faster. But it didn’t last
. We were about 15 miles out when the changing terrain brought
rougher air again and the birds began to struggle with the wing.
along, we began a slow decent at about seven miles out and were
at tree top level by the time we reached our destination in Franklin
"After circling the site a few times we landed near a small marshy
pond where we held the birds while the pen was set up. With the
long slow flight it felt like we had stolen 2nd and 3rd base only
a home run. Woo Hoo!" Miles gone: 702.
day from about 6:30 to 10:00 a.m. and again from 3:30 to 4:30
in the afternoon. TrikeCam is
live during migration flights.
What was the weather like when they landed in
Franklin County, Alabama last December? What else
was interesting about last year's arrival in Franklin
County? Click here
to find out. (b-for-bonus)
What role did pilot Richard play in last
year's flight to Franklin County? Read
Joe's entry, The
Hero in Richard Pulls Us Through. What title
would YOU give Joe's journal entry? What challenges
faced by ultralight pilots have you read about
North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in
cooperation with the Whooping
Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).