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October 19, 2001
Day 3


A 9-Mile Workout Before Turning Back


Photo Richard Urbanek, WCEP

Gusty winds grounded the migration yesterday, and today brought only a few minutes of decent flying weather. After defrosting the aircraft wings, two ultralights took off at 7:23 a.m. with 7 cranes. When a strong headwind came up, Joe and Deke climbed higher in search of smoother air (and to avoid flying directly over a busy highway). The smoother air didn't last, and again the wind bounced the ultralights and birds around so they made very little progress.

"Who needs this?" Not wanting to fight the headwind, 3 of the birds turned back. The pilots thought it was an excellent idea and followed suit! Day 3 of the migration brought no progress south, but everyone hopes for better weather tomorrow!

The crew decided not to fly #4 today. They spent much of Wednesday trying to find the wayward #4 who made up his own flight plan on the first leg of the migration and dropped out. Breaking away from Deke's aircraft, he landed in an area unfamiliar to him. Flying the "scout" ultralight, Bill had recorded the coordinates for the drop-out bird into his GPS unit and radioed the ground team to begin tracking him with the telemetry equipment. Once #4's signal was picked up by the trackers, the crane amazed them by spending the next few hours soaring high into the skies over Adams and Juneau counties in central Wisconsin. Dan Sprague said, "We tracked the bird to a spot just west of the refuge. It is likely it was trying to locate the training site at Necedah and was probably high and missed the mark." It was tricky, but the bird was successfully captured late in the day and returned via crane crate to the migration cohort at their stopover site in Adams County. Will #4 get another chance to join the migration? Stay tuned!


Try This! Journaling Questions

  • Cranes normally fly between 32 and 35 miles per hour. Today's headwinds really slowed them down. How windy was it? It took 20 minutes to fly 9 miles southwest.
  • After turning around, the trip back to the previous Adams County stopover took only 11 minutes. What was their flying speed going southwest? How fast did they fly on the return trip?

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

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