Operation Migration Vandalized
Just before Thanksgiving, the Operation Migration aircraft hangar in Necedah, Wisconsin was vandalized and robbed. The monetary cost of this senseless act was more than $20,000. They really need our help!
Since 2001, Operation Migration has been reintroducing endangered Whooping Cranes into North America. The birds are raised by costumed handlers with puppets and taught to follow an ultralight aircraft on their first migration from Wisconsin to Florida. See yesterday’s article on Burdr about Operation Migration to see some amazing videos of Operation Migration in action!
Four wings that are used on their ultralights to train young Whooping Cranes were slashed. This alone will cost Operation Migration $20,000!
Two crew members had stored their vehicles there until they could pick them up after getting the Whooping Cranes to Florida. Their headlights were smashed and tires slashed. Brooke, who is flying the ultralight in the photo above, lost many of his personal belongings.
His entire life is spent on the road so he uses the hangar to store all the belongings that the rest of us would keep at home. Most of them are now gone or destroyed in some distorted expression of violence that we simply can’t comprehend.
Another member works with metal in his spare time and had stored one of his finished projects in the hangar.
One of his pieces was a full size Whooping Crane. He told me it was his hardest work because he knows so well what it was supposed to look like. He captured it perfectly. Now, the wings are broken, the body smashed and the rest spray painted in an obscene gesture of cowardice.
Despite all of this, Operation Migration keeps going.
Jack Wrighter is a Top Cover pilot for Operation Migration. What a Top Cover pilot does is circle about 1,000 feet above the ultralights in a faster plane, like a Cesna until the pilots and birds reach the new stopover site. They stay in touch with air traffic control and the ultralight pilots during each leg of the flight. I think he pretty much sums up why we need to help this organization.
Over the past five years I have gotten to know and love every one of these dedicated individuals involved in this much worthwhile project. During this time I have seen dedication which is so far above and beyond normal, that it would be hard to believe had I not actually witnessed it.I have seen ultralight pilots land with frostbitten fingers after an unusually lengthy flight. I have seen ground crew members wading waist deep in a swamp to retrieve a wayward bird.
I have seen volunteers gladly sleeping on sofas and floors to save expenses. I have seen pilots and ground crew trying to repair a broken down vehicle by flashlight in the pouring rain after an already long scrambling day.
I have seen the disappointment on all of the crew’s faces when they are faced with day after day of delays due to unfavorable weather. I was there when Chris’s engine failed forcing him into an emergency landing in a field.
These unplanned circumstances heaped upon them only add to the stress of attempting to keep the the operation running under what more often than not are difficult circumstances at best. These events would surely have caused a less committed and dedicated bunch of folks to throw in the towel. It is beyond my comprehension how, year after year, they tolerate these conditions, overcome obstacles, cope with disappointments – and continue to press onward with their mission.
As of November 29th, Jack said he will match every $10 WHOOP donations that comes in from “new” Whoopers for the next 10 days up to $1000.