OUTTA THERE! (+59 Miles)
Revised report: The team hoped today's wind would die down in time for a flight. Guess what? It did! After 15 days in one spot, the wind finally helped them make progress. The take off wasn't a breeze, as the ground was muddy and instead of landing, pilot Joe did an air pick up—flying low past the pen as the gates were opened so the birds could fly after the plane. All nine birds formed on the wing as Joe maneuvered the plane away from the field. The birds started to break up when a few spotted Richard's plane farther back. Less than a mile from the pen Joe was left with one. Richard had seven and they began a slow climb while Brooke circled back to look for one crane that had disappeared from Richard's wing. After a brief search Brooke found #12 between the edge of the river and a tall tree line. After 22 miles, #1 dropped down. Richard had to keep climbing in order to lead the birds over the wind farm ahead, as the turbines might spook the birds. Luckily, Brooke in his plane and trackers on the ground were able to find and box #1. Meanwhile, Joe climbed with #7 to over 2000 feet to keep the bird as far from the wind turbines as possible. Then they found fairly smooth air at an altitude around 1800 feet, and the tailwind increased their ground speed to 55 mph!
After one hour and 17 minutes, Joe and #7 landed next to the pen, which was ready and waiting in Piatt County, IL. Richard landed soon afterward. They put seven birds into the pen and their aircraft into the hangar of the generous hosts. Then Brooke landed and the other two birds arrived by van in their boxes. Whew! We are amazed and grateful for the success of this day. Onward at last!