At 8:11am CDT Joe Duff launched with six of our seven young Whooping cranes from White River Marsh SWA in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. The plan was to fly the six girls then return for #4-14, our lone male crane and fly him on his own, which would give him a better opportunity to ride the vortices that spill off the trailing edge of the aircraft wing.
After a couple of circuits, one crane dropped off and landed in front of the pensite. Colleen let me know via text message that it was #9-14. Joe continue on to the first stop, with Richard flying in the chase position, while Brooke and Walter rode below them in the tracking van.
About 2 miles out, another crane fell back so Richard moved in to pick up this one, which turned out to be #8-14, while Joe continued on. The two pilots managed to get these five into the pen, which was already setup and waiting for them, before returning to the White River Marsh site to try to fly numbers 4-14 & 9-14.
Richard arrived first in the new aircraft and with assistance from Swamp Monster (aka Jo-Anne Bellemer in a tarp), convinced #9-14 that it was time to leave. He flew over our heads at the public flyover site, with about 20 people silently cheering him on.
Next Joe flew in and launched with number 4-14 (aka Peanut). By this time it was starting to get a bit trashy over the treetops and the young crane was having a hard time keeping up to the aircraft. He did manage to fly for 7 minutes, which is the longest he’s flown in more than a month, but he was unable to continue to the first stopover. Peanut will begin his first-ever migration in a crate unfortunately.
Here are some photos I was able to capture from the flyover location.
Today’s migration launch is dedicated to three very special Craniacs we’ve lost recently – Marlene Meyer, Charlie Moyes and Gary Masemore. May your spirits soar with the cranes…