Following the Monarch Migration by
Ultra-light Aircraft

(Click to see enlarged) IBBA member Dave Clermont took this photo of Vico Gutierrez (front) demonstrating his Ultra-light before starting his migration flight from Dave's butterfly farm in Granby, Canada.

Map reproduced from Papalotzin (Aire-Imagen) website with permission.

Click HERE to follow the route in detail

Click HERE for Vico's schedule (text in Spanish)

Pilot to Accompany Butterflies Along Route

Monarch migration

By Terry Rombeck
Lawrence Journal-World
Wednesday, August 10, 2005

(Reproduced with permission)

When the monarch butterflies later this month begin their 2,500-mile flight from Canada through Kansas to central Mexico, someone will be tagging along.

Francisco “Vico” Gutierrez plans to join the distinctively colored butterflies in a scooter-like, ultra-light airplane to track their annual migration.

“For the size of this incredible insect, it’s amazing what they do to arrive in Mexico,” Gutierrez said. “It’s going to be an adventure.”

Gutierrez plans to take off from Montreal, Canada, on Aug. 21 and arrive near Valle Del Bravo, Mexico, in early November. Along the way, he’ll be filming a documentary about the migration and stopping in various places to raise awareness about habitat conservation for butterflies — including a stop Sept. 25-27 in Lawrence.

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo

Francisco “Vico” Gutierrez sits at the front of his “Papalotzin” ultra-light plane with an unidentified assistant during a presentation to the press in Mexico City. Gutierrez and a crew including other pilots from Canada, the United States and Mexico plan to leave Quebec on Aug. 21 to follow thousands of Monarch butterflies during every part of their winter migration from the forests of eastern Canada to the central Mexican mountains.

Gutierrez, who lives near monarch sanctuaries in Mexico’s Michoacan state, has been flying hang-gliders more than 30 years. He’s been involved in previous documentaries and in hang-gliding competitions.

“Every time I’d pass by the sanctuary, I’d see so (much) illegal logging, and every year comes less and less monarchs,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “So I decided to do this flight to promote conservation.”

The butterflies make their journey straight south, more or less, from Canada to Mexico.

Gutierrez and a small crew are taking a more complicated route, to accommodate interviews with butterfly experts and to hit major population centers for publicity. He’ll be flying at 3,000 to 4,000 feet in a 400-pound, 34-by-8-foot plane that somewhat resembles a butterfly, with orange, black and white wings.

Stops are planned in Toronto; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Lawrence; Oklahoma City; Austin, Texas; and Eagle Pass on the Texas-Mexico border.

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo

Mexican pilot Francisco “Vico” Gutierrez, second from left, stands with assistants and sponsors around his “Papalotzin” ultra-light plane during a presentation to the press at a park last week in Mexico City, Mexico. Gutierrez and a crew including other pilots from Canada, the United States and Mexico, plan to leave Quebec on Aug. 21 to follow thousands of Monarch butterflies during every part of their winter migration from the forests of eastern Canada to the central Mexican mountains.

In Lawrence, Gutierrez plans to interview Chip Taylor, a Kansas University professor who directs the Monarch Watch program, an international effort that tags and researches butterflies and promotes conservation.

“It’s an interesting project,” Taylor said. “They’re attracting a lot of attention. Hopefully it’ll do some good and raise some awareness and maybe even some money for this.”

Deforestation is threatening monarchs in Mexico, Taylor said, as is a lack of habitat in Canada and the United States. Monarch Watch recently set a goal of creating 10,000 “way stations” in the United States and Canada, where milkweed will be planted to sustain populations during migration.

Gutierrez’s project is dubbed Papalotzin, a word from the ancient Nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs that roughly translates to small butterfly. It’s being sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund of Mexico, the government of Michoacan state and Gutierrez himself.

“My main aim is to let the people know about this incredible phenomenon,” he said. “We have to get attention from the government of Mexico, and put pressure for it to take care of the forest and try to watch for logging.”


Mike Shields
City Editor
Lawrence Journal-World
645 New Hampshire
Lawrence, KS 66044
fax: 785-843-4512

Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 11:14:21 EDT
Papalotzin delayed due to Katrina

Attention News Editors:

Welcome Celebration Planned for Papalotzin

LEAMINGTON, Ontario, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Corporation of the Municipality of Leamington, in collaboration with the Leamington and District Chamber of Commerce, are hosting a welcome celebration for Papalotzin, a tiny one-person ultra-light plane being flown from Canada to Mexico following the migration path of the monarch butterfly. The purpose of this journey is to raise awareness for monarch butterfly conservation.

The event, scheduled to be held on Wednesday August 31st at 10:30 but postponed due to impending post-tropical storm Katrina until Thursday September 1st at 9:30, will recognize and celebrate the cultural and natural connections the region has with Mexico. The community of Leamington seasonally employs over 4000 people each year from Mexico. Similarly, monarch butterflies make their way from Canada to Mexico and back each year.

The Papalotzin (an Aztec word for "small butterfly") project is being spearheaded by Francisco "Vico" Gutierrez, the ultra-light pilot and project director, along with the Mexican Michoacan State Government and the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico. The trip is being filmed for a documentary about the life, flight and challenges of the monarch butterfly

During the journey, the Papalotzin crew will be organizing events and press conferences to raise awareness of both local and international monarch conservation issues. The ultralight plane, which is painted like a monarch, will began its journey in Montreal, Quebec, continue through the province of Ontario, the United States, and into Mexico, ending its journey in the butterfly sanctuaries of Michoacan. As a public celebration, everyone is invited. The event will start with the ultra-light plane landing near the Leamington Marina. Anticipated landing time is 10:30 am. The Papalotzin welcoming celebration will include a sampling of locally prepared Mexican food and Mexican music. The Pelee Island Winery, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and Flavour Pict Produce are sponsoring the celebration. The Pelee Island Winery is also sponsoring the pilot and crew during their stay in Leamington and on Pelee Island.

Point Pelee National Park of Canada is one of 41 national parks in Canada protecting and presenting significant examples of our nation's natural and cultural heritage.

Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 09:08:50 EDT
paplotzin update

Todays post from Don Davis in Toronto. He is posting daily to the Dplex list and is able to spend alot of time with the Papalotzin group and others as you will read. He is contact with someone of the crew and will be getting excellent monitoring as they continue on their journey.

Another outstanding day of filming, public relations and interviews and outstanding weather. Light rain arrived late in the evening while we sat enjoying a beautiful meal of sausage (this area has a large population of Canadians of German origin), sweet corn, salad, followed by a dessert of ice cream smothered with fresh diced Ontario peaches. Of course, we drank "Monarch" wine!

The Team spent much of the day answering questions from the general public. Pilot Vico did an important interview via cell phone to Washington D.C. (Voice of America). We also filmed monarchs in the alfalfa field I have mentioned in previous posts. There were many monarchs and I was very impressed by their large size and very fresh appearance.

We later visit and filmed a portion of John Powers' amazing collection of butterfly and monarch materials. John has even managed to collect the original dies used to print and cut early Urquhart tags. John holds a Guinness Record (1984) for owning the largest moth in the world - a specimen that is over 70 years of age.

Not being certain if Ontario was going to receive heavy rain from Katrina, the Team elected to remain another night in Breslau as guests of Kees and Sabina Kennema, owners of the Greenway Blooming Centre. A number of teachers came by and spoke with John Powers and Kees about purchasing butterfly garden plants from them and designing a butterfly garden.

This morning, our gasoline prices jumped 20 cents to about $1.20 per litre. This is an overreaction by the oil companies, and prices should go down shortly. I understand that John Powers may be offering some support to the Team through a sponsor re: fuel costs. More on this later.

Don Davis
Toronto, ON

Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 11:19:31 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
Talk To America interview - migration

This link was sent to me by Don Davis who is spending time in Canada with the crew of the Papalotzin expedition. It is about 45 minutes long but is interesting. There are three guests discussing the migration of the monarch, along with other species of animals and birds in general. Thanks to Don Davis for keeping me abreast of the newest news.

When you go into this website, click on August 30th Animal Migration. It will take a couple minutes to download.


Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005
Subject: todays festivities at Point Pelee, CA

Parks Canada welcomes Papalotzin

LEAMINGTON, Sept. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - On behalf of the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Jerry Pickard, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry and Member of Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Essex, today celebrated the arrival of Papalotzin to Point Pelee National Park of Canada in the Leamington Ontario region.

"Just as citizens of Mexico come to Leamington every summer and return to their southern homes each fall, so too does the tiny monarch butterfly," said Minister Dion. "The Papalotzin project is an exceptional way of celebrating nature, as well as our natural and cultural connections."

Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Corporation of the Municipality of Leamington, in collaboration with the Leamington and District Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the Papalotzin, a tiny one-person ultra-light plane being flown from Canada to Mexico following the migration path of the monarch butterfly. The purpose of this journey is to raise awareness of monarch butterfly conservation.

Each year, millions of monarchs make the long journey from southern Canada to spend the winter in the pine and fir forests of the state of Michoacan in central Mexico. Point Pelee National Park is an important stop on the monarchs' route. Every fall, as the monarchs attempt to cross the Great Lakes, thousands land in Point Pelee before continuing the trek south. Point Pelee National Park was named as an international monarch butterfly reserve in 1995 under the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation because of the unique and important role it plays in the migration of the butterflies.

The Papalotzin (an Aztec word for small butterfly) project is being spearheaded by Francisco "Vico" Gutierrez, the ultra-light pilot and project director, along with the Mexican Michoacan State Government and the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico. His trip is being filmed for a documentary about the life, flight and challenges of the monarch butterfly. The ultralight plane he is flying, which is painted like a monarch, began its journey in Montreal, Quebec, and will travel through the province of Ontario, the United States, and into Mexico, before ending its journey in the butterfly sanctuaries of Michoacan.

The Papalotzin journey is not only raising awareness of the importance of conserving the Canadian and American habitat along the monarch migration route, but also of the depletion of forests in Mexico where the monarchs spend their winters hibernating. While there have been many conservation initiatives over the last few decades, depletion of these forests still threatens the winter home of the tiny butterfly.

"The bringing together of international non-government and government organisations, as well as community interests, is an acknowledgement that the preservation and protection of our natural heritage, including the monarch butterfly, is integral to our quality of life and global identity," added Mr. Pickard.

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of its heritage treasures in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 18:23:11 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
Quickie news update

I just read this post from Don in Canada and found it interesting.   Seems the crew got a bit behind schedule, but got back on track and enjoyed the day in Niagra Falls.

I was informed last night that our Papalotzin  friends made is across the border into the U.S.A. and spent the night at  Batavia, New York.

Prior to heading to Niagara Falls from Point  Pelee, they had to return to Pickering (west of Toronto) to do some work  on one wing of the ultralight. Fortunately Michael at High Perspective Hang  Gliding School was able to locate the part that was needed, and they  headed to Niagara Falls.

John Powers tells me that they received a  warm reception in Niagara Falls, and a helicopter tour pilot gave them all  a brief free ride over the falls area. John also flew with Vico up over the  Niagara Falls and they took some excellent footage. Because of the high  amount of air traffic in the area, they had to stay at the 4000 foot range.  John was most impressed with the view of the falls from 4000 feet. The air  was not turbulent and John was impressed with Vico's skills as a  pilot.

Don Davis
Toronto, ON

Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2005 09:13:51 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
Don's map

The map noted below is a pretty good one in that you can follow the  route taken so far by the Papalotzin Team. Click on "7" on the left side of  the map to get a larger map of southern Ontario and the northern  U.S. states. The trip began in the far right in Montreal, then Ottawa,  then Pickering/Toronto, then Breslau (near Kitchener - marked on the map),  the to Point Pelee (not marked on the map but the peninsula  clearly visible, sticking out into Lake Erie near the west end of the  lake, with Pelee Island in front of it), then back east to Niagara Falls and  now to the last destination, Batavia, New York. I have not included a necessary pit stop back to Pickering east of Toronto before they headed  to Niagara Falls.  Quite a journey! No doubt their Volkswagen van with  trailer will need a few oil changes!,NY

Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2005 20:06:11 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
Papalotzin article & dates for Washington DC
News Advisory:
World Wildlife Fund Photo Opportunity, Media Availability 
Ultralight Plane Migrating with Monarch Butterflies To Land in Washington 

Final East Coast media availability and photo opportunity with monarch ultralight plane, crew and monarch butterfly experts

Dr. Lincoln Brower, WWF senior fellow and Sweet Briar College professor; world authority on monarch butterfly biology Carlos Galindo Leal, forests program director, WWF-Mexico Francisco "Vico" Gutierrez, lead pilot and director of the Papalotzin project

D.C. Parks & Recreation's Francis Field, 25th Street between M and N  Sts., N.W., Washington (Metered parking is available on N St. and free parking  is available in WWF's parking garage, 1250 24th St.)

Thursday, Sept. 15, 10 to 11 a.m.

In a historic transcontinental flight, a crew piloting an ultralight plane, Papalotzin, is following and filming the annual migration this year of North America's monarch butterflies. The motorized hang glider -- painted like a monarch butterfly -- will stop in Washington from Sept. 14-19. This will be the plane's final East Coast stop.During the trip, a team is filming a documentary about the life, flight and challenges facing the monarch butterfly. The monarch is the only insect that migrates and its annual journey has been declared "an endangered migratory phenomenon." The ultralight plane left Canada in late August, along with the monarchs, and will arrive at the butterflies' Mexican wintering grounds in November. The "Papalotzin" project, which means "little butterfly" in the Aztec language Nahuatl, is supported by World Wildlife Fund, the Telcel Alliance and  the Michoacan, Mexico, State Government.

B-roll and still photos of the Papalotzin plane and the spectacle of monarchs wintering in Mexican forests will be available. The ultralight plane and monarch  experts will also be at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Sunday, Sept. 18, from  11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of Hispanic Heritage Month festivities. 

PHOTO EDITORS: A high resolution, publication-ready photograph supporting this story is available for free editorial use at: []

An archive of this and more than 1,000 news photos is available at: []

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 14:00:33 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
report on Papalotzin weekend activities

Papalotzin flew in on the thermals to the Kingston/Ulster Airport exactly on time, 2 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 9th on its first stop in the United  States. A Mexican Son Huasteco music band (guitars and violin plus vocals) was  playing, and a large crowd had gathered to say Bienvenida a los Estados Unidos. There was excellent Mexican food,  a beautiful butterfly stage (designed and built by my husband Steve Jones) for the band and presentations, a good  sound system and much enthusiasm on a clear beautiful day. There were also  monarch butterfly cakes, baked by my niece.

Papalotzin (Royal Butterfly in Nahuatl language) and its talented,  intrepid crew were warmly welcomed. Welcoming gifts were my book, The Spirit  of Butterflies: Myth, Magic and Art, pine needle butterfly pins made by the  mountain women in Mexico, a print of the painting  Butterfly Moon Woman, by  well known artist Melissa Harris, and a wreath of feathered monarchs by Jarita  Florist in Woodstock.

There was information on reforestation, hand woven pine needle art made  by the women who live in the foothills of Cerro Pelon, and packets of milkweed seeds, which were given out for a small donation to Michoacan Reforestation Fund. There was butterfly gardening information and info. on certifying gardens as Monarch Way stations, and/or National Federation of Gardeners Backyard Habitats. There were a number of articles in the local press (two in Daily  Freeman the 8th and 10th), RNN T.V. crew was there and the event was on the  evening's 6:30 news on the 9th (actually on 6:55 p.m. )   Vico  Gutierrez and I were interviewed on WDST Woodstock radio Sunday morning show,  Roundtable at 8:15..

A photographer videoed the whole event which is now on DVD - it came out great!

The Ulster County historian was there to record the event for the  archives. A grand time was had by all.   A few monarchs flew over  the festivities.

The next morning, Saturday,  I was speaking at beautiful Minnewaska  State Park in the Shawagunk Mountains in New Paltz, N.Y.,  which the crew  filmed.

I got to ride in Papalotzin later that afternoon - it was truly soaring  like
a butterfly - fabulous experience - smoothest aviation experience I’ve ever had. After the early morning radio interview on Sunday - we went looking for monarchs in wildflower meadows only to learn from a neighbor the monarchs were  in my gardens at home. It was too windy for Papalotzin to take off on Sunday  afternoon - part of the crew drove onto N.Y.C. while Vico and co-pilot and right  hand man, Luis, stayed at our home.

When Papalotzin took off on Monday morning, a monarch butterfly flew  around it as it was on the runway about to leave for N.Y.C. - a blessing on  its journey.

Papalotzin and crew are on a great mission - to quote from one of the articles: Gutierrez called the Monarch a "measure of the health of the  Earth" and said "it's time to recover the health of this planet."  And  Papalotzin, The Journey of Hope, inspires us to keep on working toward that  very goal.

Maraleen Manos-Jones

Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 16:55:13 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
Papalotzin flight

As you all know, we have following the progress of Vico Gutierrez and the Papalotzin crew on their quest to follow the path of the migrating  Monarchs. 

What you maybe do not know is that the IBBA will become a sponsor of the project and soon we will be listed on their website on the top banner as sponsors. 

They will be arriving in Dallas, TX,  to a fanfare given by our own  Linda Rogers and will be showered with t-shirts, cookies, and other goodies as  well as a monetary donation from the IBBA to help with their housing and food expenses.  The donations are sorely needed and very much appreciated by the group.  Vico and the crew are very much looking forward to meeting Linda  and will be co-ordinating with her on their arrival. 

This is a milestone for the Monarch and for the IBBA as well to be involved with such an historic endeavor, with the support of all of you in the  IBBA.

Visit the website soon for Papalotzin @ and see what they  are up to next.  Hopefully we will see some super pics of their Dallas  visit on their website as well as ours.  GO PAPALOTZIN!!! (means "little  butterfly")

Papalotzin Visit to Lawrence, Kansas: []


Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 17:15:15 EDT
From: Fran LeMasters
a very good article on papalotzin


Click on the "LISTEN" link right under the heading.  It is a very good interview.


October 3, 2005
To: IBBA Members
From: Linda Rogers
RE: IBBA Sends Best Wishes to Papalotzin

Linda greets the Papalotzin crew at the Discovery Butterfly Gardens
at the Texas State Fair. Linda (in blue) is next to Vico, the pilot.

(Click picture for larger version)

As part of the ongoing story of Papalotzin (thank you, Fran LeMasters for bringing us this project and working to get our two groups connected so well) - I had the great pleasure of meeting with Vico and the Papalotzin crew at the Discovery Butterfly Gardens at the Texas State Fair today. Dave Clermont of IBBA, in Canada, was the starting point for Vico's journey from Canada to Mexico, following the Monarch migration. The ultralight flew into Texas on Sunday afternoon, after having visited in Oklahoma and also with Chip Taylor at the Monarch Watch program in Kansas.

The ultralight is a beautiful machine with it's orange and white Monarch wings..... and it was parked in a grassy spot at the Gardens, tended by Gwen Harper and the other volunteers at the State Fair. There were Monarchs and other butterflies flitting about, looking as if they were almost curious at this huge Monarch-like creature! The Papalotzin crew were just delightful people - so energetic and completely whizzed up about their project (you would think they'd be so tired after such a long journey from Canada to North Central Texas). They swarmed all around me and Steve, and wanted to know all about the IBBA - they were truly amazed that our group cared enough to send greetings, T-Shirts and a donation. They had gotten to know our Dave, and John Powers and others in Canada and are completely enamored with butterfly farming!

On behalf of the IBBA, I presented IBBA T-Shirts and a $200 donation to the Papalotzin Project, to assist with their travel expenses. You cannot imagine the appreciative, truly grateful response this brought. The crew immediately changed their shirts and put on the IBBA T-Shirts right there and started snapping photos of the crew next to the ultralight.

They all let me know how wonderful "butterfly people" are - and that they had been helped by so many generous people along their way. They ALL told me to tell all of you THANK YOU, MUCHAS GRACIAS AMIGOS.... for the thoughtfulness and donation to their project.

They will be leaving this afternoon and I believe their next stop is Eagle Pass, and there are others waiting there to help them along their way. It was such a nice day today, getting to meet the Papalotzin crew and represent all of you to this worthy cause. The video will be produced either by National Geographic or another entity - they weren't sure yet.

Yours in Butterflies,
Linda Rogers

To Save Endangered Butterfly, Become a Butterfly

The last of the articles I have found on Vico Gutierrez landing in Mexico.  Good article!


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