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Editor's Notebook

Wet Fields Don't Bother Flying Farmer

October 22, 2018

I was going through some old issues and came across this story from 1979.  It created quite a stir until we looked at the date and realized the creative mind of Dieter Krieg, editor of Farmshine in Pennsylvania, had "dug up" the story.

SWAMPY FURROWS - As much as the wet field conditions are causing a lot of grief for anxious sodbusters, one innovative and resourceful Pennsylvania farmer isn't letting the muddy fields bother him too much.

Hans Hubschrauber, (that's him, flying the helicopter, above) is getting the jump on his neighbors by attacking his field work with his own air force. Having 1050 acres to prepare for corn, soybeans, spaghetti, and cotton, the 37-year-old former Air Force pilot is wasting no time to get his work done.
Using a slightly modified Augusta-Bell 204 helicopter, Hubschrauber has found his "aerial tractor" to be ideal for a number of jobs, including manure spreading.

 During an interview today (April 1) Hubschrauber told Lancaster Farming that he likes the aerial application of manure procedure because there is no change of a tailwind splattering him with the home-made fertilizer. The blades of the big chopper force the manure down, allowing for better penetration of the soil and faster availability of plant nutrients to hungry weeds. Then when the weeds are off to a good start, Hubschrauber hops into his helicopter again. This time he's armed with herbicides. The weeds die and provide good organic material for a better soil texture. Seeding is the next step, and as you may have guessed, it's also done by helicopter.
The depth of planting, says Hubschrauber, is controlled by the velocity of the chopper's rotating blades and the hardness of the soil. Under wet conditions such as shown in the picture, he'd drive kernels of corn about eight inches into the soil if his chopper's rotating blades are going at top speed. Hubschrauber is careful, therefore, to not have the blades spinning too fast.

"It works out real fine," he chuckled, "but you do have to be careful not to slow down too much."

"I really enjoy farming this way," said the Pennsylvania farmer. "I get a good view of my fields, I can spy better than ever before on what my neighbors are doing, and when I'm not using the chopper for field work, I can use it to fly to town or on vacation trips."

The chopper requires only minor modification, Husschrauber revealed. Primarily, it was just a matter of installing a power-take-off shaft and two winches from which implements can be suspended by cables. His equipment needed minor changes as well. For example, he had to install a special gear box on his power - take - off - driven manure spreader to allow for the new direction of the shaft. Once that's all taken care of, there's no problem at all in being able to make sharp turns or "riding" over rough terrain.





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