UI grad applies skills in agriculture, aviation at family business – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette


PONTIAC — Kris Petersen grew up On the airport.

His mom and father, Scott and Sarah Petersen, started Pontiac Flying Service in 1997, and their youthful son was typically in tow On the Livingston County facility.

“I used to be On the airport Daily, driving my bike, having fun with with airplane toys, And that i started serving to on the loading pad, washing house windows, scrubbing wings, as quickly as I might attain up there to do it,” Petersen said.

Right now, the College of Illinois graduate is an aerial software pilot and personnel supervisor for the househprevious enterprise, which has expanded with a second facility Inside the Cooksville space and providers shut to Champaign.

Whereas In school, Petersen studied crop sciences and agrienterprise — education he believes Is important to his success.

Incomes his wings might have been a lifelong dream, however Petersen remembers a time his physique wasn’t on The identical wavelength.

“I had An monumental drawback with air sickness and movement sickness,” he said. “Finally, I acquired that labored out of my system As quickly as I acquired Barely previouser.”

Petersen’s father earned his pilot’s license in 1980 and has been an integral An factor of his son’s journey, serving as teacher and mentor.

Few agricultural flight schools exist Inside the nation, and Petersen estimates a nationwide pool of about 1,500 ag pitons.

“It’s not For everyphysique. … It’s A very area of curiosity market,” he said.

No loopy flying

The antiquated time period “crop duster” can conjure up pictures of daredevil pitons haphazardly flying previous fighter planes.

However the enterprise has come a Good distance.

“Undoubtedly that’s been a stigma with the aerial software enterprise For tons of yrs — the loopy crop-duster cowboy-type flying beneath power strains, buzzing people, simply On the market having A great time,” Petersen said. “The enterprise has carried out A great job getting that picture out Of people’s heads.

“The (National Agricultural Aviation Affiliation) works very exhausting to current our enterprise as expert throughout the nation and world.”

Petersen said The guidelines are agency Collectively with his operation: No loopy flying.

That’s To not say Petersen doesn’t Just like the adrenaline of being Inside the sky.

“The liberty of the flying is great; You will Have The power to go anyplace You’d like,” he said. “I Revenue from the ag half, to make good softwares, and we get to be exact with the GPS gear We now have.”

Know-how has come a Good distance since ag pitons used paper maps, plat books and highlighters to plot routes.

Doc yr for fungicide

The rise in fungicide jobs this season Isn’t distinctive to Pontiac Flying Service.

Strong demand for fungicides As a Outcome of of illness strain, insect strain and constructive return on funding have all contrihowevered to fungicide softwares shut toly doubling from previous yrs, said Jeff Bunting, crop safety division director at Growmark.

“There’s a broad spectrum of illnesss being managed from grey leaf spot, Southern rust, etcetera,” Bunting said. “Tar spot is displaying up in some spaces, too.”

Bunting said with enhanced demand, some farmers struggled To Search out out there pitons.

“I am listening to that some aerial applicators are turning away enterprise because They solely can’t get to them or gained’t have the window to make The equipment in time,” he said.

“Additionally, with the enhance in demand We’re getting A lot of Questions on what’s Occurring, why are planes flying and what are they making use of? That is about how we work together with The general public and the significance round IPM (constructed-in pest administration) guidelines and The want for The equipment.”

The Pontiac Flying Service crew was definitely busy in Cooksville The primary week of August, with a handful of staff arriving simply As a Outcome of the photo voltaic peeked over the horizon on a Wednesday morning.

Standing in entrance of Certainly one of many 5 Air Tractors, Petersen said the planes carry 500 to 800 gallons of liquid, which equates to an hour-and-a-half of spraying earlier than a pilot Should land and reload.

The pitons can cowl 30,000 acres together in Finally, with planes touring 130 to 160 mph.

As his plane was being crammed and prepped, Petersen slipped away To grab his lunch area. It Could be An prolonged day, however he hoped to wrap up their fungicide softwares by the weekend.


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