Due to the dwindling populations of the Whooping Cranes, a migration experiment took place in the fall of 2000. Since the Sandhill crane population was in abundance, a select group of eggs were selected to be raised and taught to migrate with the hopes they would then lead the Whooping cranes south in the future. This was the beginning of Operational Migration.
The pilots and handlers always wore costumes when working with the cranes. The costume was designed to mask the human form. This consisted of baggy gray fabric that extended below the knees to make sure the "legs" could not be distinguished. Can you imagine wearing this during the hot humid summers in Wisconsin, much less flying an ultralight dressed like this?
The experiment was a huge success when the cranes not only followed the aircraft all the way to Florida but returned on their own to Wisconsin the following year. Yup...just more Wisconsin snowbirds..
The trainers also had to be careful not to talk, sneeze or cough or anything that would be considered "human". The only voices these cranes have ever heard are those of other Sandhill cranes via a hand-held CD player or loudspeakers mounted on the ultralights.
For the best experience, watch one of the many videos on You Tube showing this project. I've attached one for you here.
Long Live the Queen of the Cranes