July 28, 2011

Flights departing to a field near you

By Michael Johnson, Editor

While you might be used to losing your luggage or sitting in the lobby of most airports you’ve visited lately, things are a little more high speed this time of year at the rural airports. The blaring sound of planes flying left and right, the sight of men with breathing apparatuses and the smell of chemical and exhaust is a sure sign that crop sprayers are working overtime. Crews from North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana gather to move as much herbicide and fungicide as they can from June to freeze-up at Washburn’s Municipal Airport. When the plane is hauling chemical it’s about getting from point A to point B in a speedy but safe manner. The only delay for spraying is a rainy or excessively windy day. At any one point, about nine planes were weaving in and out of traffic at the airport on Thursday at Washburn’s landing strip. Between taking 500 gallons of liquid to a field, pilots pulled to a hanger to wipe the bugs off their glass and do a once-over before refueling and reloading. Each trip takes about an hour to unload and then it’s back to filling up with the Deterding brothers. Greg Deterding, son of the owner, Andy of Andy Deterding Ag Aviation (ADAA), said it’s a fun time while watching planes taking off for another field. “But it’s pretty hectic,” G. Deterding added. Last year, the business helped cover just under 100,000 acres of cropland.



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