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University Relations

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September 22, 2005
Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855.

Ultralight plane, film crew to land in Lawrence to track monarch migration

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas and Lawrence will welcome later this week the crew of an ultralight plane attempting a historic cross-country flight to follow millions of monarch butterflies as they make their annual 2,500-mile fall migration from Canada to Mexico.

Francisco "Vico" Gutierrez, the pilot and director of the Papalotzin project, which means "little butterfly" in an Aztec language, and his team will land at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Lawrence Municipal Airport, 2500 Airport Road. Their visit is being hosted by KU's Monarch Watch, an outreach organization based at KU that is dedicated to tracking the monarch's migration and conserving its habitats.
The team plans to have media availability at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, at Foley Hall on West Campus to display the plane, as well as talk about their journey and monarch habitat conservation efforts.

The Papalotzin team, flying a plane painted like a monarch butterfly, is filming a documentary on the monarchs' migration, Taylor said. Besides Gutierrez, other members of the crew are Luis Miranda, Greg Allen, Andrew Donaldson and Tania Guerrero. The flight is funded by the World Wildlife Fund of Mexico, the government of Michoacan, Mexico, and Gutierrez himself.

" What they are doing is bringing a lot of positive attention to this year's monarch migration," said KU ecology Professor Orley R. "Chip" Taylor, directer of Monarch Watch. "They are interested in conservation and the issues involved in saving monarch habitats both in the United States and Mexico."

The forests in Mexico where the butterflies spend the winter are seriously threatened by illegal logging, Taylor said.

While in Lawrence on Sept. 25 and 26, Gutierrez plans to interview Taylor for the documentary, and the crew plans to tour Foley Hall, home of Monarch Watch, and the butterfly garden; visit the Baker Wetlands; and film a monarch-tagging demonstration.

Those with an interest in ultralight aircraft will find the Papalotzin visit interesting as well.
" It's really awesome to be up in this ultralight with just a seatbelt on and nothing else around you," Taylor said.

The Papalotzin team began their journey Aug. 22 in Montreal, Canada. They have traveled to New York, Washington, D.C., and Missouri. After Lawrence, they will visit Oklahoma and Texas before moving to the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro and finally the butterfly sanctuaries in Michoacan and Estado de Mexico.

WHAT: The Papalotzin ultralight plane and its crew, following the annual fall migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, will visit KU and Lawrence to support monarch habitat conservation efforts. The team will have media availability on Monday, Sept. 26, during their visit.

WHEN/WHERE: The plane will arrive at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, (weather permitting) at the Lawerence Municipal Airport, 2500 Airport Road. The media and public are invited to meet the crew and see the plane at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, at Foley Hall on West Campus. Media should contact Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855 or, for more information.


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