Farm Industry News Blog

Step right up, up and away!

Iowa farmer Jeff Ryan takes a well-planned summer break to take an adventure of a lifetime in a tiny plane in Alaska.

"Tell ya what," the sales guy said, "I can get you in on the next flight. It will be the Level 3 glacier landing. I'll give you a helluva deal, too, and we can get you on there in five minutes!" 

Gulp. Okay, I'm skeptical, but let's talk. 

Numbers were tossed out. They were small numbers. Planes fly whether they're full or only partially full. A paying customer is still paying. Once the fixed cost is covered, the balance is gravy. Take a look at me. One of the first things that comes to your mind is probably gravy, right, Gordy? 

The brochure talked about proper clothing and the potential for cold weather when you're on the glacier. I mentioned that I probably needed to go back to the RV for a coat. That's when Biff The Sales Guy gave me instructions.  "Sir, take one step back and stand in the sun. Now tell me how you feel."

I feel fine, Biff. 

"Well, that's how it's going to feel up there today.  You won't need a coat.  We can have our shuttle take you to your RV and get it if you want to, but I was up there in this and I felt fine," Biff told me. 

In that case, let me go find the rest of my party and tell them, Biff! 

That's always fun when you show up without the vehicle and tell your fellow travelers awaiting their ride, "Well, look, you're on your own.  I need to go, BECAUSE I WILL BE FLYING TO MT. MCKINLEY AND LANDING ON A GLACIER IN FIVE MINUTES!!!"  

Surprisingly, the idea went over quite well with everyone.  They would head down to the RV and they'd all take a nap for a couple hours while I went out and did column-worthy stuff. Standard procedure. They know how my life works. 

Next thing you know, a shuttle bus pulled up and whisked me away to the airport. Six of us would be getting into the plane with our pilot. I believe his name was Brad. The six of us were a husband and wife, three other guys and I. Brad did the seat assignment work after we covered some of the basics of the plane. He picked one guy and decided to put him in the tiny back seat by himself.  Then he decided to put the husband and wife in the seat ahead of him.  Brad kept sizing us up. He picked another guy and put him in the next row. Now it was down to me and one other guy over who got the second row and who got to be up front with Brad in the co-pilot seat. We weren't exactly wearing sashes and holding our breath in nervous anticipation of being crowned Mr. Co-Pilot Alaska, but it was close. 

Brad kept looking us over. Then, he made his decision. 

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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