|DATE: Nov 13, 2012 – Entry 2
||MIGRATION DAY 47
|FLOWN TODAY: 177 miles
||ACCUMULATED: 746 miles
|LOCATION: Walker County, AL
||REPORTER: Liz Condie
At long last all the stars aligned. The ground crew’s cell phones were ringing with updates – one after another. First came the news that it was ‘a go’, then that we were skipping Hardin County, TN, and then that we were also skipping Franklin County, our first stopover site in Alabama. Adjust GPS, trade one Gazetteer for another, flip ahead several pages in our Migration Route Book. Then let out some ‘Yippee’s’.
It’s just coming up on 4:45pm CST and all but one of the ground crew have made it to Walker County. Joe is stuck in Muscle Shoals, AL with a brake problem on the Sierra Travel Trailer – still waiting for a verdict from that corner.
As for the air crew…Walter is at this moment driving Brooke and Richard back to the pensite where their trikes were left. It was too breezy to take off again after landing with the birds so they tied the trikes down to wait for the afternoon calm air to fly the few miles back to where they will be hangared for the night.
LEAD PILOT REPORT by Richard van Heuvelen
Frost glistened off the fields below shimmering reflections from the pivot near the pen. Geoff and Julie opened the pen doors and the chicks hesitantly tumbled out of the pen until they saw the approaching trike. They immediately sprang into the air, coming after the trike. As I circled around, like champs, they formed up on the wing.
Once they were on the wing, I turned to head on course for Hardin County, our second and last stop in Tennessee. The climb to altitude was slow but steady, and we soon found ourselves at 4,000 feet – and still climbing.
The birds were eager as all get out and it was difficult to stay ahead of them. It quickly became obvious that we would have a good chance to skip Hardin County and fly on to Franklin County, Alabama.
We continued to climb, and we were nearing 5,000 feet and still climbing as we passed our Hardin County stopover. The birds continued to fly strongly and be aggressive. Once we reached our Franklin County site in Russellville, it was again apparent that the Class of 2012 still had a head of steam so we turned on course for Walker County.
The air was smooth and by this time we were scooting along at 5,700 feet and doing 70 miles per hour ground speed. This was the highest we have ever flown with birds.
I began the descent to the stopover site 20 miles out, but were still at 3,000 feet when we got there and it took some time to get the birds to come down. Eventually the trike pulled away, descended the last 100 feet, and landed ahead of the birds. They touched down almost immediately after.
All in all a pretty great day with another 177 miles under our belt!!