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EAA Ultralight Chapters Challenged to "Give a Whoop"

By Dan J. Grunloh, President, Chapter UL-30

Carl Bleichner

It began with a phone call by an EAA member to his local ultralight chapter president suggesting the chapter make a donation to the Operation Migration fund in support of the pilots and volunteers flying with the whooping cranes. I agreed and felt compelled to e-mail the suggestion to the other 30-plus ultralight chapter presidents. The initial response has been favorable. The first chapter to confirm a donation was UL-10 in Tulsa Oklahoma.  If you have been following their saga, you know the 2009 migration has been difficult.

This crew can handle routine challenges such as long spells of bad weather, independent-minded birds, and the occasional two-stroke crankshaft failure. In late November the team members learned their hangar in Wisconsin had been vandalized - aircraft, wings, and personal property of volunteers damaged or stolen. EAA news reported it here. Just two weeks later, while still in Illinois, their “top cover” Cessna chase plane made an emergency forced landing in a muddy field and flipped over. Their difficulties earned lots of news coverage, and fortunately enough good people came forward with donations in less than a month so that the lost equipment can be replaced.

However, group members still need support for daily ongoing operations. They did not reach their destination before the holidays and they are now in Franklin County Alabama. The next crop of new cranes will hatch out in four months. We need to support them because they are helping us in the ultralight world, as well as all of aviation, with publicity we could never buy. Every time their story is told, the public learns that ultralights can be used for purposes other than simply having fun. They can do a job that no other aircraft could attempt.

The group is also helping scientists and naturalists around the world who are watching the experiment to learn if it is possible to reintroduce an endangered migrating bird species in this way. And finally they are helping the birds. There are only about 300 whooping cranes in the world. Most of us will never see one except in a zoo. Few will ever experience the thrill of having a flock of cranes flying off the trailing edge of our wing. The closest we can ever get is this video.

The challenge to EAA members and chapter officers is to go to the Operation Migration website and read some of the “In the Field” daily journal reports. Next, look under “Our Work” or go directly to “Our Team.” Scroll down and read the biographies of the staff and especially the volunteers and interns. The more you read, the more you will want to go back to the main page, click the contribute button, and “Give a Whoop.”

As of this writing (January 4) the Holidays and now the weather have kept the migration in Franklin county, Alabama.

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