1/09/2012

Whooping Cranes and Plane Grounded by FAA

Ten young whooping cranes and their "mother" are grounded in Franklin County, Alabama due to what the FAA states may be a violation of the pilot not having a valid commercial pilot's license. Apparently the cranes were about halfway to their Florida destination for their winter home. The small aircraft that resembles the wings of a crane, was leading the young whooping cranes to their winter home. The FAA rule is primarily intended to prevent pilots from taking passengers on risky aircraft as this light aircraft definitely would qualify. It consists of a single large wing, small engine and fan blades. I'm having difficulty understanding how this would violate FAA rules since it involves Whooping Cranes rather than human passengers. In fact, if you take the ruling literally, there is no violation since there are no humans (other than the pilot) and the whooping cranes have their own mode of transportation since they can fly on their own.

As you may recall, Whopping Cranes nearly became extinct at the outset of World War II. Since that time, they have made a steady comeback. This reintroduction for the young whooping cranes was to establish an eastern fly path to Florida. The reintroduction is part of a plan between the governments of Canada and the U.S. to help migrating cranes find their way to migration habitats in Florida. A humorous aspect of this entire trip is that the pilot is dressed up in a baggy bird suit to simulate the mother of these cranes. The plan seemed to be working until the FAA stepped in to stop this harmless attempt to help this endangered species. The FAA is expected to grant a waiver so the young cranes and "mother ship" can continue onward to Florida. Hopefully, the remainder of the migration will be unimpeded due to weather, mother ship problems or government agencies.




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