The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Group needs new planes to guide whooping cranes

MADISON, Wis. -- A conservation organization that uses ultralight planes to lead endangered whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida for the winter has to replace its aircraft by next spring to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Operation Migration ran into trouble with the FAA because it pays salaries to pilots. FAA regulations say sport planes -- a category that sometimes includes aircraft of exotic design -- can only be flown for personal use.
In addition to buying three new $20,000 aircraft with support from donors, pilots were required to obtain private pilot licenses, co-founder and pilot Joe Duff told the Wisconsin State Journal.
The FAA allowed Operation Migration an exemption from the ultralight rules until April 30, 2014. The Canada-based conservation nonprofit hopes to have its new planes by January or February.
"It was definitely a stressful time for us," Duff said. "We're fortunate that the FAA wants to work with us and wants us to continue what we were doing. There was just no space for us in the rules."
Duff said to successfully guide the whooping cranes, Operation Migration's aircraft must have small 50-horsepower engines and travel 30 to 50 mph so the birds can keep up.
The new fleet also must have bird-friendly propeller guards and eventually will have speakers that play a louder version of the comforting, brooding sound a mother whooping crane makes to her chicks.
"Even though we're the regulators, we believe what they do is a good thing and we want to help them achieve their mission," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said.
Operation Migration pilots have successfully taught new generations of Wisconsin-raised whooping cranes to migrate south for the long Midwestern winter months. After being nearly wiped out in the 1940s, there are now 600 of the whooping cranes nationwide.
Story tags » ConservationAnimals

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


Photo galleries

» More HeraldNet galleries