Owner: Greg Epperson
Location: Miami, Okla.
Business: Midland Flyers
History: “I didn’t start flying until I was 20 and went to the Grove Airport for lessons. By the time I finished that and some college, I was disappointed to learn I was too old to be a military pilot. Then I saw crop-dusting and found my flying career,” Greg Epperson said. “I went to a local company only to be told ‘no’ because young pilots tear up new equipment. Later the same guy called me back and offered me a job. After flying for him for 13 years, I bought the company and its single plane, a round engine Weatherly. I now have three turbine engine planes and three pilots, including myself.”
Products and Services: “Our company crop-dusts both dry and wet applications. Customers supply their own seed or fertilizer for dry application while we can provide the chemicals for wet applications including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Rate of dispersal is variable according to the product and to customer needs. We do more pasture than row crop applications with two hours needed to switch dry and wet airplane attachments. Dry applications are usually flown telephone pole height while wet applications are typically only 10 feet above ground in order to ensure the chemicals go exactly where needed. One interesting annual application is spreading rye seed in a harvested soybean field so young plants break up the soil and then coming back in the spring with Roundup to kill the rye before soybeans are replanted.”
Safety: “Safety is critical in this industry. Pilots must pass an annual physical and planes an annual detailed off-site inspection. We fly under FAR 137 Flight Rules and only when the wind is 10 miles per an hour or less. Finally, if anything on a plane seems to be functioning less than perfectly, the plane is grounded until that issue is resolved.”
Philosophy: “We need to be at a farmer’s beck and call, ready to go when they need because that farmer’s livelihood is at stake.”
Future: “In 10 years I hope to have expanded our working season and our territory as well as integrating new technology as it emerges and becomes economically feasible. For myself, I plan on flying as long as I can pass my physical, hopefully until at least 93.”