Cranes Whoop It Up
A "trike" aircraft flown by a volunteer pilot, in close formation with a family of Whooping Cranes, was expected to take flight from Alabama at dawn today after a short, self-imposed grounding. Operation Migration is an annual program to lead cranes raised in a pen in Wisconsin (who are taught to be wary of humans by handlers dressed as cranes) to join natural flocks in Florida. Flights were grounded as both the project's volunteer pilots and FAA investigators considered whether the operation qualifies as a "for hire" project, which would be disallowed under the trike's certification as a Light Sport Aircraft. After some 1,400 signatures to an online petition, the intervention of Congress and pressure from media coverage, the FAA granted a one-time waiver to finish this year's migration.
Courtesy Operation Migration