Go Cranes! A Flight Today (+64.4 Miles)
December 4, 2007: Migration Day 53

In the Air Again!
Photo Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration


Whoopee! They're now in Russell County, the last stop in Kentucky! Joe led today's takeoff with all 17 birds. Oh, happy day! The birds charged out of the pen, eager to fly despite 8 days on the ground, and none turned back. But the flight was not without its challenges. The birds followed well for a few miles, but started to break up as they climbed in altitude. Soon all four pilots had birds on their wings. Their ultralights were only a few hundred feet apart. "That split the loyalties of the birds following us, and they moved back and forth between us," explained Joe. The planes got some distance between them and eventually 9 formed on Brooke’s wing and 6 on Joe's. Joe kept losing altitude because he had to continually chase #703, who wanted to lead. (More>> ) As a result, Joe and his 6 birds stayed below 1000 feet, where a tailwind slowed their progress. Richard and Brooke climbed higher and caught a tailwind. Richard landed first with two birds, then Brooke with 9 and Joe with 6. Oh, it's good to be moving again!

A Chance to See the Cranes and Planes!
The public can watch the departure (let's hope it's tomorrow) as the cranes leave Kentucky for Tennessee. The pilots will try to fly over the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery near the Wolf Creek Dam (map and directions). Liz at Operation Migration reminds everyone: Be there by 6:45, dressed warmly!


In the Classroom

  • Today's Journal Question: (a) The cranes were grounded for the past 8 days. What's the all-time record for being grounded in one spot? Find out here.
    View this video clip taken by Chris on one of last year's flights and then answer: Why doesn't the bird closest to the plane flap its wings nearly as much as the birds farther back? If you are stumped, see our questions and audio clip, as well as this lesson: Flight Formation.
  • Migration Math: Richard and his two birds climbed to 2500 feet and managed to pick up a slight tailwind, while Joe and his birds had to stay below 1,000 feet today. At that altitude, the smooth air was moving against them. Joe said, "Our ground speed was never above 34 miles per hour despite the fact we were flying at 42 mph." How fast was the headwind blowing?



Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).