June 17th - Visiting a Cropduster

Leaving Stuttgart.
Leaving the Episcopal Church in Stuttgart. The folks there were all really inspired by our trip, which touched me. They also took lots of photos of us.

The route today was very pretty. We wandered through an assortment of cropland, leaving behind Stuttgart's rice paddies for soy, corn, and other crops. (Riceland, a major rice processing company, is based in Stuttgart, but I didn't get any pictures of their facilities. It's a shame.)

Along the way, we ran into a small cropduster airstrip. As we approached, one of their planes landed, all of 50' off the road. We pulled over for a bike to chat with the employees. A few facts: each of the planes cost around a million dollars (an older style with radial engines are more like $60k but lack the payload capacity.) They can carry three to five thousand pounds of dry fertilizer, but need nice weather to safely approach the higher end. The airship only served a five mile radius: flying that far takes 10 minutes, and the fertilizer tanks are only good for 15 minutes of dumping, so the further away the field, the less airtime is actually spent dusting. They have a relatively short season (May-September) of long days, and around four months annually with next to no business.

Our evening host was a bike and build alumni who invited us to stay in his house. He and his wife have both ridden the SC2SC route in different years and were very interested in comparing our experiences to theirs. Especially since the 18th is a day off, it was nice to stay in a real house with a non-industrial kitchen.