Operation Migration (O.M.) Team 2008

Meet the team that shows captive-bred Whooping Crane chicks where to migrate by leading the way in ultralight airplanes!
(Click on each photo.)

Joe Duff, Canadian Co-founder of Operation Migration (O.M.). Joe is Team Leader, CEO and senior pilot of O.M, the WCEP partner that leads the ultralight migration. His daughter Alex is 9 years old. Joe was a well-known photographer before he became an ultralight pilot and leader in saving endangered species.

Hear Joe

Richard van Heuvelen, Operation Migration (O.M.) pilot. Richard led the ground crew for the 2001 migration and filled in as back-up pilot. Since 2002 he's been a team pilot. A Canadian, he has four daughters: Megan, Sara, Katie and Jessie. Richard is also a master sculptor. Joe Duff says of Richard: "If anything is broken he can fix it and if it doesn't exist he can create it."

Brooke Pennypacker, Operation Migration pilot since 2002. Brooke has a great sense of humor and a son named Devin. Brooke once built a raft to drift down the Mississippi while reading Huckleberry Finn. He is also a skilled diver and worked on the oil rigs off the coast of Scotland.

Video clip of Brooke's Greeting to You

Chris Gullikson, Operation Migration pilot since 2005. Chris is an experienced trike instructor and has a natural way with birds. He runs storm watch tours on the side so he is the team's weather consultant. Read about his first flight with the cranes when he became an Operation Migration pilot in 2005.



Bev Paulan is O.M.'s Supervisor of Field Operations. She is known as "Chick Mama" because she is involved with each year's chicks from hatch to release in Florida after migration.

Bev is from Antioch, IL. Bev is also a pilot. She had her own charter plane service for 15 years. Bev has worked as a teacher at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Hear Bev tell the hardest part of wearing the costume.

Audio clips courtesy Mark Chenoweth of Whooper Happenings.

Charlie Shafer, former O.M. Intern, works full time at Patuxent WRC where the chicks hatch. Charlie has a college degree in biology.

He is involved with each year’s chicks from hatch in Maryland to release in Florida after migration.

Charlie will serve on the ground crew as a tracker for half of the migration and then return to his duties at Patuxent.

Walter Sturgeon has more than 30 years of experience handling cranes. For the fifth year, he is a welcome volunteer with the ground crew! Walt is retired Assistant Director of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. He was a nuclear scientist for 38 years before that.

Only 21 Whooping cranes were left on Earth in the year Walt was born: 1941. He has helped to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Brian Clauss is a crane handler/trainer from Patuxent WRC where the chicks hatched. Brian and his wife Barb helped raise and train these chicks from the time they hatched. Brian is a biological technician who has been at Pautxent WRC for 16 years.

Now Brian will join the migration on the
ground crew for half the distance and then return to Patuxent WRC. (Brian shares the job with Charlie Shafer, who works the other half of the migration.)

Canadians Don and Paula Lounsbury have volunteered as top-cover pilots for Operation Migration for many years. Their dog comes along too! They keep in touch with air traffic control AND all the ultralight pilots during each leg of the flight. They cover the first half of the migration, and then another top cover pilot joins for the second half.   John Martineau is an intern for the 2008 migration. John has always been fascinated by aviation and birds, so the job is a perfect fit. He has a college degree in biology. He also worked as a locksmith, flew solo at 16, began skydiving at 18, and will eventually get a license to be in the air with the birds! Another of John's interests is falconry. See John's introductory greeting. Matt Ahrens is the team's back-up pilot, filling in as needed. Last year Matt started out in Tennessee, flew a complete series of flights over Georgia, and finished in Florida. The team looks forward to his fun presence and great cooking once again. (Matt is an expert gardener and makes delicious pickles!) Heather Ray can do almost any job with Operation Migration except fly planes. She raises funds for the organzation and will also travel with the migration as an "intern" on the ground crew. Heather first joined OM before the Whoopers were led by ultralights. Many of the photos you see on JN are Heather's good work! Two hobbies are raising and tagging monarch butterlfies and making stained glass. Hear Heather's greeting.

Meet other key partners helping with the migration. >>


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