North Bound Again and Happy About It

Written by Brad Pendley
Friday, May 13, 2016

Photo of Brad Pendley.This marks my 3rd year of May surveys. I have been lucky enough to fly Stratum 50, 69 and 70 in Ontario and Quebec with my pilot, Jim Wortham. This year’s prep was a little different than the previous 2 seasons in a couple of ways.

First, other than taking a few online refresher courses, all of my training was up to date. I didn’t need to go for a water ditching class and I had pretty much everything ready to go. I knew what I needed to bring and more importantly what not to bring. I’ve noticed each year my duffle is a little lighter. That first year, I didn’t know what to expect so I brought everything I could think of that I might need. Last year, I had removed all the “might need” items. This year it was clothes, computer, camera and some survival gear. All the extras make a difference when you are calculating how much fuel you need and can carry.

The biggest difference this year was how my trip north started. The previous 2 years I had hopped on a commercial flight and headed over to meet Jim in Maryland to start the long flight up. This year Jim was already south of me and the route north took him right over my parents’ house in Western Kentucky. I told Jim we had a great airport with a friendly staff and cheap Jet A. Being that it was a short drive from Mingo NWR to get there, my wife and daughters had a chance to drop me off at the plane. They had a chance to meet Jim, check out my flying home away from home, and at least get a small feel of what I would be doing for the next 3 weeks. It seemed good-bye hugs were a little easier standing next to a “cool plane.” Maybe it was the plane or maybe it was the fact they are getting used to me going to count pairs in May.

The Pendley family. From left to right: Emma, Gretchen, Cora and Brad. Photo Credit: Brad Pendley, USFWS.

The Pendley family. From left to right: Emma, Gretchen, Cora and Brad. Photo Credit: Brad Pendley, USFWS.