Bill Lishman, who taught birds to fly with him, remembered for thinking outside the box

Fatima Syed, writing in the Toronto Star:

Lying in bed one night in 1985, Bill Lishman told his wife Paula that he was going to teach birds to fly with him.

The dyslexic, colour-blind, wildly creative sculptor woke his three young kids up and told them the same thing. They laughed off their ever-enthused, larger-than-life father and went to bed.

But for the next three years they all worked with geese, which “imprint” on the first thing they see, considering that person or thing to be their parent and follow it. Lishman tried to get them to imprint on the sound of an engine and follow his motorcycle first, and then, his plane.

In 1988, Lishman took off in an ultra-light plane (picture a lawn-chair with wings) with a flock of 12 Canadian geese on either side of him. In a V-formation, together they flew — the geese had imprinted on the plane.

Five years later, he flew with 36 birds to South Carolina from Scugog township in Durham Region.

His flight was documented in the 1996 movie Fly Away Home starring Jeff Daniels and was based on Lishman’s autobiography, Father Goose.

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