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A summer as a survey pilot: The Bigger Picture

We are in a new era where technology is used in all forms to expedite the process of information access, medical innovation and even agriculture. Yep, that's right. Even the way we once used to farm and produce crops is changing. According to the USDA statistics service, the Midwest region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin contributed the most to the United States' total expenditures due to its high investment in the agricultural industry. It continues to state that Ohio is in the Corn Belt region, which also includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri. The Corn Belt region value is roughly a profit of $6,110 per acre, which is a slight increase from the past couple of years. Thousands upon thousands of acres relied upon the right mixture of highly concentrated and mechanized, chemical inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and non-therapeutic antibiotics. An expense to farmers they cannot seem to cut, as crop treatment became essential to "getting the most" out of every acre. What if I told you the answer to optimizing your fields are as simple as an airplane flying lines at 5000ft MSL? Aerial Photography and Field Surveying Pilot This summer I found myself in southern Illinois with my first professional aviation job— A seasonal survey pilot. Not the traditional route, but nonetheless an experience that equipped me with knowledge of how big our agriculture industry really was and how while I was building time, I partook in servicing crop enhancement. I learned how to use highly technical camera systems developed specifically to collect readings from the crop. These cameras were capable of capturing the smallest of details of every field. This information was developed into a grid or plan for farmers to only use the fertilizers and antibiotics on needed spots on a field instead of wasting millions of dollars on treating healthy crops. Special coordinates could be installed on crop sprayer tractors and the right amount of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and non-therapeutic antibiotics could be applied. While partaking in a "twist to farming", I also learned self-service fueling and towing an aircraft in and out of a hanger. Although it can lead to complacency, it is critical to maintain your training and stay proficient at all times. Simply understanding what I was doing and why it was being done, also help encourage greater alertness. Exploring many different opportunities in the industry helps you broaden your understanding, respect, and enthusiasm for the industry. So next time you are looking for a low-hour pilot job, explore all of your options and be open to all of the learning that will come along with it.
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