Of course David Eby has a pair of gold-framed aviators dangling from the collar of his T-shirt.
And if that doesn’t say he’s a pilot, a conversation with him probably won’t either because for the most part, he speaks fluent engineer while discussing his business, AgriFlite Services Inc.
So, does Eby consider himself a pilot or an engineer?
“Um, both,” he said last Thursday while giving a visitor a tour of his high-tech flight operation nestled between corn fields on C.R. 36 in Wakarusa, the site of what was once his family’s farm.
Just don’t call him a “crop duster,” a misleading nickname that originated after a JN-4 “Jenny” biplane was modified to drop lead arsenate on infested catalpa trees growing on a Troy, Ohio farm in 1921.
“We don’t dust,” said Eby, who along with his fellow pilots are known in the business as aerial applicators, but from the sounds of it are really farmers at heart.
Instead of tractors, however, Eby’s workhorses are single-engine, one-seat Air Tractor airplanes.
“They burn 85 gallons of fuel an hour and we go through three tanker loads of fuel a week when we’re busy,” Eby said. “So to keep that airplane going and make it profitable takes a lot of work. You gotta get the shortest distance to the field and have the fields all lined up so you don’t waste time.
“You’re always under pressure to get stuff done and you’re always fighting the weather. And, farmers are very impatient because they have their livelihoods at stake. So, if you plan on doing something one day and you’re set back a day or two, that causes a lot of stress on everybody’s end.”
Read more on this story at the Farmers Exchange