Wheat Harvest Stalls; Adventure Beckons

Kansas Viewpoint

We headed out to ride the combines but with rain delay, a bigger thrill was in store

Published on: June 5, 2012
Most of you already know I'm a pretty enthusiastic grandma who tries to introduce her urban grandkids to life on the farm every chance I get. Never is that more true than during wheat harvest when a chance for a day of "grandma adventure" is becoming legendary in the family.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to introduce grandson, Lewis, to a day of meeting farmers and climbing on combines as we got ready for harvest. This weekend, it was time to take his cousins out for a similar opportunity.

When we set this up, I expected to take them to wheat harvest this weekend. Rain on Wednesday and Thursday and cool, cloudy weather on Friday meant a slowdown in harvest as farmers waited for fields to dry down and wheat heads to lose humidity.
SHES OFF: Captain Alyssa, complete with helmet and goggles is ready for takeoff. Her enthusiasm on takeoff was matched only by excitement at landing.
SHE'S OFF: Captain Alyssa, complete with helmet and goggles is ready for takeoff. Her enthusiasm on takeoff was matched only by excitement at landing.

The best we could do for a combine ride was a few turns around the yard outside the wheat field, just to give them a feel for the machine.

But Barton County farmer Roger Brining, a long-time aviation enthusiast, still had a thrill in store. He offered them a chance to "pilot" his two-seater, open-cockpit experimental airplane around the flight pattern of the Great Bend Airport.

"I was scared to death at first," she said. "But I did it and I'm brave. Now put it in my book -- 'first time flying an airplane, 9 years old'."
TEAMWORK: Chloe and Jackson check out the possibility that a single seat can be converted to a double, but to Grandma that didnt seem like such a good idea.
TEAMWORK: Chloe and Jackson check out the possibility that a single seat can be converted to a double, but to Grandma that didn't seem like such a good idea.
 
Roger is fully aware of my own appreciation of aviation as we've talked several times about the thrill of seeing the world from several hundred feet above the landscape. What he didn't know was that my oldest granddaughter, Chloe, talks about being an astronaut in about the same tone of voice I used to say I was going to write stories for newspapers and later magazines.

Jackson, who will soon turn 5, was happy to sit in the front seat as long as Chloe was there but declined to take the skies as the sole occupant of that seat. So he joined me to watch while Chloe took her turn.
ALL ABOUT LANDING: When the plane had safely taxied back to the hangar, Chloe was proud to say that she helped with the landing, which took place on the grass, rather than the runway. "I especially liked the part where he could talk to me and tell me what to do," she said.
ALL ABOUT LANDING: When the plane had safely taxied back to the hangar, Chloe was proud to say that she 'helped' with the landing, which took place on the grass, rather than the runway. "I especially liked the part where he could talk to me and tell me what to do," she said.

Chloe, who had already established her status as a "digital native" by carefully following the monitor display in the combine cab and questioning what every light meant, seemed happy to explore aviation of the before-time when she donned goggles and helmet for her flight.

At the end of the day, both girls had just one question: When are we doing to do it again?