November 3, 2002
Smooth Sailing to Boone County, IN
At 7:43 a.m. eastern time three trikes took off from Indiana's Benton county in calm air and chilly temps (27 degrees). Joe was in the lead position with all 16 birds. As he gained altitude and made a slow sweeping turn to bring the cranes on course, 15 of them broke away. Now the game is on! Chase pilot Brooke moved in to lead this large group, while Joe carried on with the one bird that stuck with him. Richard and Bill circled overhead, ready to move into position in needed. Then one bird dropped off from Brooke's group. Richard quickly maneuvered his aircraft into position in front of the dropout.
Brooke kept going with 14 birds, flying at a slightly lower altitude than Joe. But as they approached Joe's lead trike, all of Brooke's birds decided to veer right and climb to re-join the single crane off Joe's right wingtip! That put Brooke back in his starting position as chase pilot. At last all the birds appeared satisfied. They were rewarded with air as smooth as glass. After 1 hour and 13 minutes, they everyone landed in Boone county, Indiana with another 48.3 miles logged on the journey south!
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