Sometimes you don’t realize how important somebody is to you, until you lose them. It often takes a few days to understand what has happened.
Unfortunately, at least four prominent members of the SEAF associations have passed on in the last 14 months.
Eddie Andrews was from a multi-generation ag-pilot/operator family. He flew ag and was the main mechanic at Bruce’s Flying Service in Arlington, Georgia. In December 2016, Eddie had an unexpected massive heart attack and died. Less than a year later, his brother, an icon in Georgia ag-aviation, Fred Andrews passed away. Fred started in ag aviation many years ago when Stearmans were the primary ag-aircraft. His operation in Arlington eventually moved to Ag-Cats and finally Thrushes. Fred was very involved with the Thrush factory’s program when Fred Ayres was its owner.
Henry Haddock of South Carolina met a sudden death in 2018 in a twin-engine plane that he was flying. Like the Andrews, Henry was a mainstay with his association in South Carolina. It was jokingly said and in good humor, that the annual raffle ticket sales at the SEAF convention would never be the same without Henry’s contribution.
During the summer of 2017, a third generation Georgia ag-pilot, Tripp Everidge was killed while spraying in Arkansas. Tripp’s grandfather, Ronnie Everidge, who passed away many years ago, was well-known and referred to a “Daddy Rabbit”, owner of Rabbit Ridge Farms. Tripp was relatively young and had a promising career as an ag-pilot, snatched away from him all too suddenly.
Last and most recently, SEAF members and the GAAA lost a dear friend, Frankie Williams. Frankie was known worldwide and loved by all. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He owned and operated Souther Field Aviation and was a Thrush dealer, as well. He flew, he turned wrenches but more importantly, he always had a smile and time for whoever walked into his office.
I had known some of these men for over 40 years and Tripp since he started flying ag. I didn’t know Henry as well, being from another state. They all contributed to their industry in one way or another. And, their passings are our losses. None can be replaced. In three instances, our losses were caused by health and in two by accident. Doesn’t matter, they are still gone before their time; whenever that is. No one wants to be depressed over a loss. So, let’s not dwell on it too long and instead celebrate their lives and all they meant to whomever’s lives they touched.
With spring around the corner, many ag-operations are gearing up (some already working) for burn down work, small grain fertilizing and other applications that not too many years ago where not practiced to the extent they are today. This is good for the industry. But, like any skill, if you allow your flying skills to go without ‘practicing’, then it is not as good as it was when you stopped for the winter break last year. Keep that in mind as you launch out on those first loads of the season and let’s start out with the intent to make 2018 as a safety record breaking one.
Until next month, Keep turning…