Operation Migration is part of a U.S.-Canadian partnership of government and private organizations trying to re-establish migrating flocks of whooping cranes. The cranes nearly became extinct, dwindling to only 15 birds in 1941.
So far so good, and these guys have been doing this for a decade. Ten years they've been at it. This year however somebody was bored at the FAA.
Yeah. They waited until the guy was halfway there and THEN grounded him. Not because of anything the pilot did, of because of the aircraft, nope. Because of an obscure detail you'd have to be a lawyer to know about.
Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.
Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.
FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration's plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that's the category of aircraft that the group's small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft - which are sometimes of exotic design - from being flown to benefit a business or charity.
Obviously there's too many guys at the FAA with time on their hands. Solution? Fire half of them. Put the fear of God in the other half.
Update: Welcome all you Small Dead Animals and flying monkeys! ~:D