In the Southern Red River Valley, early morning near the summer solstice spells bright blue skies, wispy clouds and a prickly breeze.
Fields of soybeans, corn and sugar beets carpet the landscape, while groves of trees pop up like islands in an emerald sea. Alfalfa and wheat are beginning to transition from green to gold, teasing the coming hues of autumn.
The Rabbit River coils through farmland, interrupting its geometry. South of Wahpeton, it joins the Bois de Sioux River flowing north.
I wasn’t enjoying the views from the ground, but from hundreds of feet above it.
“All parameters normal,” an automated voice said faintly into my headset.
Suddenly, the fields drew closer, close enough to make out the wide leaves of a sugar beet crop. I watched from the glass cockpit as we glided six feet above the plants. The end of the field was fast-approaching. Like a reflex, Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness pilot Eric Klindt yanked the petite blue plane upwards, making my stomach drop. He then guided the Vans RV-4 aircraft into a tight turn, before plunging back toward the field for another spray maneuver.
While Klindt wasn’t actually spraying the sugar beet crop on our flight, he does the same motions every day in his job as an aerial applicator.
Read more on this story at the Wahpeton News