May 15, 2002
The Plane and the Plan
This is the second year of a bold migration experiment to reintroduce whooping cranes
where they used to be over a century ago, The plan is to lead the chicks with the
ultralights on the 1200-mile migration to Florida. The chicks that follow the ultralight
south will become part of the ancestral flock for the whooping cranes being reintroduced,
or brought back, to the eastern part of North America. As such, they are part of
the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project. Many partners work together in this ten-year
plan. The group is called the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).
That's where the ultralight comes in. The tiny plane (also called a trike) is
both their flight teacher and their stand-in mother. These ultralights weigh only
about 360 pounds. The trikes can fly at crane speed, which is about 32-35 miles per
This year, 18 chicks were hatched for this special project. That's a lot more
chicks than the first year of the project! That, of course, is going to affect the
number of ultralights that need to be used and the number of pilots flying. Operation
Migration, the organization that figured out how to use ultralights to lead birds
on migration, bought another plane to lead the larger flock. Ultralight pilots Richard
van Heuvelen and Brooke Pennypacker join pilots Bill and Joe this year.
Uncrating new trike
Pilots Bill, Joe and Richard
Voila! Photos WCEP
Try This! Journaling Question
- Keep a list of ways this migration and flock are different from last year's--the
very first human-helped migration of an endangered species. As you read all the Highlights,
look for facts to add to your list.
Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by
Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).
Copyright 2002 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
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