Clark was a pilot in the very first ultralight-led migration
in 2001. He had also piloted in the experiment to lead
sandhill cranes south before they tried it with endangered
Whooping cranes. A retired United Airlines pilot after
33 years with military flying before that, Deke had a lifetime
of service flying planes. He joked that the pilot's seat
more than the entire ultralight plane he flew for Operation
and Joe flew the first migration but Deke was foreced into
early retirement from flying cranes because he suffered
a stroke. He has been recovering ever since. But he
shows up to cheer the team's Florida arrivals. He also
attends many of the
yearly Crane Fests at Necedah NWR. People love to see
Deke, and he loves to see them. His fans like to get their
taken with Deke, and he can still spot the birds in the
distance behind the ultralights better than anyone else
at the observation tower.
honor of Deke's expertise and dedication in getting the Whooping
crane reingroduction underway, the team has name the new
route they began using in 2001 "Deke's Way." It is a fitting tribute
to a great pilot and a great friend to Operation Migration.
about one of Deke's exciting days in the 2001
to the Rescue.