Boom or bust

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Take a drive out into the surrounding countryside to look at the crops and pasture land. A week or so ago the pasture grasses were a nice fresh green in color. Now they have the lighter grayish hew that signals dry dry dry. The wheat crop is turning a golden ripe color but if you look closely the stalks are shorter than normal and the heads are even shorter. Thrash out a few heads and you’ll find small berries looking almost mature. It looks to be harvestable, but it will be way less than the normal yield. Now if that wheat is under a well-watered pivot it is a whole different story; tall, still green and building toward a bountiful harvest. Water is vital in our area of the Great Plains and a real boon to our farmers with access to it.

Yes. I love living in Nebraska but these days of strong winds, 40 miles per hour plus, with temperatures around 100 degrees are a bit of a trial. Agriculture, that is our farmers, will suffer and that is the main driver of our economy here in southwest Nebraska. Our farmers are all feeling the effects of the inflation, of our dollar, with high prices for gasoline, diesel, fertilizer, chemicals, and about everything else that it takes to produce crops. And farmers are not alone as you and I, retired or gainfully employed find ever-higher prices at the grocery store, the gas pump and about everything else that one needs to buy. Wages have gone up but inflation is cutting the value of all those new dollars. Definitely a bust!

Your old columnist has been a lifetime lover of aviation. The national news of late keeps enumerating the cancelations of scheduled airline flights in high numbers. One stated cause is the current shortage of pilots and I am sure that the current price of fuel is no positive factor as well. Kind of a bust if one is trying to travel somewhere and the price of gas for a road trip isn’t much of an alternative.

The quietness of our airports rings true at McCook as well. Our new carrier, Denver Air, is regular, coming and going as scheduled. Our two freight carriers, one working for Fed Ex and the other UPS arrive and depart daily on their schedules and all are buying local fuel the lifeline of revenue to keep the airport business alive and well. Still, our ramp is mostly empty of the transient general aviation aircraft we normally expect. We two local flight instructors each have a few students learning to fly but there just doesn’t seem to be as much interest as in the past. The recent rise in the cost of fuel may be a factor. Open the doors of any of our many hangars and one still finds aircraft sitting quietly there most with a bit of dust accumulating on their wings. I don’t call that a boom.

As of the end of May the owner of the splendid local avionics shop, in pilot talk we call it the FBO for Fixed Base Operations, packed up and departed the scene for supposedly greener pastures. They did it all by installing upgraded modern electronic equipment, rebuilding engines and airframe as needed, changing oil and all sorts of repairs plus the biggie completing mandated inspections required by the FAA. A bust for our local flying community.

The new owner though is doing a splendid job of covering all the bases finding new mechanics and line personnel. He hired a delightful friendly young lady to answer the radio and greet visiting pilots, take fuel orders and offer a courtesy car for those needing a meal or staying overnight. The lounge has been refreshed—a place for those pilots, who bring visiting doctors who service our hospital, to spend their waiting hours. We also have access to rental cars for those heading to nearby destinations.

The aerial application business continues with capable aircraft and seasoned spray pilots. Still, the continuing hot winds and high prices has currently put a pretty good crimp in that business.

The largest Fly-In in the world is held at Oshkosh, Wisconsin and is coming up at the end of July. In the past, I have seen our ramp covered with transient aircraft stopping for fuel on their way to attend that event. A happy time for airplane nuts like me. Now we will see what will happen here in a few short weeks. Hopefully, our traffic will see a large increase. I’m not holding my breath but hoping for another boom and not the bust we experienced during the pandemic.

Downtown McCook should be an exciting fun place later this week with Crazy Days and Crusin’ on the Bricks coming up. Something for everyone and guaranteed to be a boom time. Come out and join us—don’t miss out!

In a whole different world, it has been announced that the Germans are restarting their coal-fired plants to provide electricity. Due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Germans are attempting to wean themselves off their reliance on Russia-produced natural gas. Bravo. I hope that our Nebraska NPPD is listening and changing their intention to close our nearby Gerald Gentleman coal-fired power plant. Reelect our local board member Bill Hoyt who voted correctly on that fiasco.

A little bird tells me that the Bnb Christian group in Palisade has been having two-day 24-hour prayer sessions asking for needed rain. Now that is a positive outlook on life. We live in a wonderful country.

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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