No Go: Test Flight Challenged (+0 Miles)
November 15, 2011: Migration Day 38

This GPS shows a snapshot in time during an ultralght flight in 2008.

Today you'll discover the importance of a GPS to the pilots.
Image: Operation Migration

Online weather reports showed winds aloft were dropping off, and hopes leaped! Richard launched his trike to test the conditions. The crew scrambled to get things ready to move at last. Richard found smooth air, but also a headwind. The GPS showed the plane's airspeed over the ground was only 20 mph. Richard reported a top airspeed of 10 mph at 1000 ft. That would have made the flight to the next stopover too hard for the birds to handle, and take far too long to cover the distance. Hopes were dashed. Today is a record-tying 11 days grounded in one spot. That's a record no one wants to break. Dig into today's lessons below, and hope for a flight tomorrow!

In the Classroom: Journal or Discussion

Migration Math: Be the pilot! Go to the Data page and calculate the distance from Livingston County to the next stop in Piatt County. Then use what you read in the news above to figure out how long it would have taken to cover that distance in today's conditions. For more practice, see GPS: A Snapshot in Time.

(a) How does a GPS in the aircraft help the pilot? See Where on Earth? A Look at GPS for help.
(b-for-bonus) The test trike took off to check conditions only after the team got the online wind reports for the area. However, Liz wrote: "For most of the day yesterday we had no service whatsoever, and that was again the case this morning. We eventually managed brief glimpses of the weather conditions before we'd be bumped off again. What we saw was that the winds aloft, although from the wrong direction, were dropping out." Imagine a time (not so long ago!) before the Internet and GPS's were not yet invented. How do you think the pilots made decisions? How many ways can you think of that inventions have helped this human-led migration and the cranes they lead?

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