If you watched the movie Independence Day, you know one of the hero's of the science fiction movie was Russel Case. Old Russ was a Viet Nam fighter pilot, became a crop duster with an alcohol problem, and gave his all getting his payback... you see, Russ was abducted by aliens. But I digress.
What brings Russ to mind however is the aerial assault going on around our place. We had fun watching a crop dusting plane make his passes over the foot and a half tall wheat. With the tree wind breaks and power lines in the area, the pilot sure has to keep a lot in mind.
Just delivering the chemicals over these large fields takes many passes. How the pilot keeps track of his position to get uniform delivery of his payload is a mystery to me. I suspect GPS technology is used, but all I can say for sure is a lot of skill has to be involved.
What about the hazards of low level flight? The pilot we watch around here is really low and abrupt altitude changes up and down over the trees made me cringe to think how the pilot must be slammed into his seat.
A quick check of government statistics shows that pilots are in the top 10 most dangerous jobs. I didn't find out how crop dusters rank in that scheme of things, but to be sure, they have a dangerous job!
I learned that the assault is against fungus, and the price to beat it is plenty high. It never ceases to amaze me how much expense can be involved in modern high tech farming. The fact it's still a big gamble just makes farmers and farming all the more facinating to me.
There's just something about airplanes and farming though... most city folk don't put the two together.