They traveled with a small two-seater single-engine airplane to over 30 countries. At each point in the world that they visited, scientific surveys were undertaken and historical sites were discovered. In awe of nature’s beauty, the two pilots took aerial photographs and collected samples for scientific research. Shortly before the end of their journey of scientific knowledge, Adrien Normier and Clementine Bacri chose Samos and the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation as the only location they would visit in Greece.
Members of an international scientific research effort under the sponsorship of several universities and institutes, the two “flying researchers” have documented important subjects including island erosion, coastal ecosystems, volcanoes, marine and terrestrial life, marine pollution, archeological treasures, human races, engendered animals of mangrove forests, swamps and wetlands, life in ice and tropical regions.
For fourteen months, they flew from country to country, according to a specific schedule and photographed areas worthy of scientific exploration using their specially designed small airplane, providing original and extremely interesting material to research centers, cooperating with universities and institutes. In Luxembourg, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, French Guyana, Peru, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia and Jordan they participated in specific research programs. They crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific, crossed the Amazon, made contact with people and cultures, but mainly documented the environment all around the world.
They chose to visit the region of the East Aegean Sea and cooperate with the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation to provide aerial information about coastal habitats, erosion of islands and islets, marine mammals and a rare Eleonora’s falcon.
During the five-day stay at the research base of the Archipelagos Institute, they took aerial photographs in coastal areas of Samos, Icaria, Fourni, Patmos, Arki and of Lipsi. This data, together with what was collected simultaneously by the research team of the Institute on their specially-equipped scientific sailboat, will be processed by specialists. The research for the first time in Greece will help map Posidonia seagrass from the sea and the air.
They have also taken photos that show the erosion of small islands, mainly due to uncontrolled anthropogenic interference; overgrazing, deforestation, construction without compliance with environmental regulations, etc.
The joint mission of the Archipelagos Institute (by sea) and “Wings for Science” researchers (by air), also focuses on the small uninhabited islets of North Patmos. 14 islands and islets in the region of Patmos were declared as a permanent wildlife refuge in 2004, as a result of research and intervention by Archipelagos Institute due to particular importance for nesting colonies of the rare Eleonora’s falcon. Two thirds of the world population breed on this collection of uninhabited islets of the Aegean.
In addition, there has been an attempt to record marine mammals (dolphins and whales) in the North Aegean, using methodology applied for the first time in Greece, which includes simultaneous capture of data from the air and sea.
The research mission of Wings for Science will soon come to an end. After Greece, the trip will continue in Croatia and Slovenia, and in mid-June after a difficult and unique research mission, the “Wings for Science” aircraft will eventually land in Paris. There will be an international aviation exhibition that will take place at a great Air Sports event for the reception of the mission.
Cooperation of Wings for Science with the Archipelagos Institute will continue in early autumn, when the researchers will return to Greek waters and resume their important contribution to the conservation efforts of our seas.
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