Whooping Crane Whooping Crane

December 1, 2001
Day 46

Stalled by Weather Again
Still in Gilchrist County, grounded by a stalled weather system. Heather gave the disappointing news: "The pilots were airborne, the handlers were in place and ready to release the cranes and the remaining members of the road crew were ready to hook-up the trailers and get moving. The radio banter we listened in on told the story: low ceiling, fog and drizzle had quickly moved in to the airstrip where the pilots had lifted of from minutes earlier. The next words we heard were 'roger that, stand down.'"

On day 39, Joe wrote in his flight log: "All right, enough is enough. This joke is not funny anymore. We have been on the road for 39 days not to mention the time away from our families during the training of the birds that began last spring. On the migration alone we have faced rain, fog, hale, snow and a perpetual headwind. Even on the frustratingly few times when the wind was forecast to be in our favour, we found that it only existed above 3000 feet. Before we enjoyed our meager reward we had to claw and scratch through turbulence for half the flight until we finally gained enough altitude to reap the small benefit. We have had to deal with high winds that knocked down our pen and killed a bird that we had come to respect. We have faced ridges that seemed insurmountable and frost that delayed almost every departure. We stood down for a week when the FAA banned all flying and modified our migration route to allow for the ten-mile security zone around nuclear generating stations. We have flown in the smog of inversions and the smoke of forest fires."

But today the pilots may be heartened by the fact they are so close to the end of the trail! Flying days remaining are few, so here's a chance to read Bill Lishman's account of the flight two days ago:

Try This! Journaling Question

  • Read A Day in the Air: A Pilot's Perspective. What indications did the cranes give that human-made noises frighten them? How might the crane's journey south be different next year, when they aren't being led by an ultralight but remembering the route on their own?

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

Copyright 2001 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to
our feedback form