Don and Paula Lounsbury

Photo Mark Chenoweth, Whoopers Happening

Canadians Don and Paula Lounsbury volunteer as "Top-cover" pilots for Operation Migration. Their dog comes along too! As top-cover pilots, they fly ahead in a faster plane. Then they circle 1,000 feet above the ultralights, keeping watch until the pilots and birds reach the new stopover site. Their radios let them keep in touch with air traffic control AND all the ultralight pilots during each leg of the flight.

Don and Paula have used their Cessna 182 to provide top cover for every migration since the first one in 2001. In fact they invented the top cover position. They figured out the spacing needed to keep track of the ultralights, yet not disturb the birds. They laid the ground work for the network of air traffic controllers who now know the Operation Migration story and clear the team through the route each autumn.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).