Where is the airplane?

I was driving down the highway one day when I came upon a large truck. On the back of the truck was a bumper sticker that read: “This truck is overloaded with federal regulations. Don’t like trucks? Stop eating, problem solved!”

Many automobile drivers don’t like sharing the road with large trucks. Often the trucks are slow and sometimes even dangerous in the way they are driven. However, there are truck drivers that take their profession seriously and drive accordingly. You can easily spot these trucks.

The bumper sticker says a lot in a few words that relates well with agricultural aviation. For those who see the large ag aircraft working a field and don’t appreciate it, then maybe they should stop eating, too. Some people don’t take the time to think through the implications of their complaints.

We are not going to stop eating. And, we are not going to stop spraying crops with airplanes. Seven billion mouths to feed every day will attest to that, though some would like to believe aircraft are not necessary in the production of food and fiber. Those same people don’t complain when the forest is on fire and about to burn their homes. Where’s the airplane? They don’t complain when there is an outbreak of mosquitoes that could be carrying the Zika or West Nile viruses. Where’s the airplane?

As drivers, we have to appreciate the slow truck chugging down the road with its load. Yes, it is an inconvenience for us. But, the truck is a necessity that we must tolerate. Truckers are burden with laws, particularly in the U.S. where there are special police that stops without cause to check the truck and its driver.

Most trucking regulations are good for the public and even the trucking company and its drivers, enhancing safety. Safety is paramount in operating a successful business; for both trucking and ag-aviation. Like with truckers, the safest ag-operators are evident. When I visit an ag-operation, I can often quickly determine if it is a good operation, usually by the way the company addresses safety. Those that take safety seriously are the most successful.

I have often thought that if a business does not take care of itself, equipment and people, then why would it take care of me? When I see rundown ag-aircraft, contaminated loading areas and a host of other unprofessional indicators, I wonder how good of a job does this company do for its customers. Appearances and safety go hand-in-hand, its professionalism.

A flying service does not have to be large and highly profitable with several ag-aircraft to be professional. Anyone can clean up the aircraft and the work area. Seemingly small things, such as safety posters and personal protection equipment can go a long way toward having the right mindset. This also boosts the morale of employees.

When I see a trucker driving down the highway, giving courtesy signals, going the correct speed in the correct lane, in a truck that is well taken care of, my respect and tolerance for that truck improves greatly. It is the same for the ag-operator. Perhaps those who complain about ag-aviation don’t always see the aircraft up close or visit the operation. But, they do notice if the pilot takes time to avoid turning over their house, or waking them before sunrise, or not letting the application drift onto their property.

Ag-aviation is no longer a “jump in the airplane and go spray” business. Like the trucker, we are burden with regulations and it takes more effort than ever to comply when we would rather be flying. True, people are not going to stop eating. However, consideration breeds tolerance and regulations tend to be the end result of our actions.

Until next month,
Keep Turning…


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