Bird Champions

For the eleventh year, Operation Migration prepares to take to the skies to teach a flock of young captive-raised whooping cranes the migratory route from Wisconsin to Florida. Ultralight pilots, top cover pilots, interns, and volunteers are readying the equipment, organizing supplies, servicing travel vehicles (3 motorhomes, a camping trailer, equipment trailer, 2 pen trailers, 2 pickups, and a 15 passenger van) for the 1,200+ mile trip.
In the meantime the Class of 2011 is growing stronger everyday. This year's flock proved to be one of the most "gift and talented." Their three month training was not without incident, however. Here are a few highlights of this year's training found on OM's website under "In the Field," http://operationmigration.org/Field_Journal.html
Gut-Wrenching Day:
Intern Caleb Fairfax describes his hair-raising experience with crane #1-11 who became lost and subsequently tangled in brush on Sunday, September 11. Caleb's 9/13 report details the event. Both intern and crane are recovering nicely.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be . . .
One foggy morning when training was out of the question, ultrapilot Brooke Pennypacker, wrote a funny report about how he came to work for OM as a "animal migration engineer." Scroll down to September 2's "In the Field," and read about his other career choices.
Looning Training Flight (In the words of birds): 
Richard van Huevelen, also an ultralight pilot, relates what it's like learning to fly from a bird's perspective in his August 21 contribution. Working with the birds, Richard has learned to speak their language.
To read the Class of 2011 bios and see their baby pictures, search the spring 2011 notes for May 27 and 28, or read my June 17 blog "Eleven-Eleven."
The projected date for this year's departure is October 8th. Stay tuned!