Friendship is something that I didn’t appreciate in my youth as much as I have aged. I’m not the guy that has always needed a buddy to run around with. In Luke Bryan’s song where the lyrics go something like this ‘a couple of buddy’s a couple of weeks’ is a very foreign idea to me. Not that I haven’t done my share of hanging out with the guy’s.

Three years as a Vietnam era Marine I hung out with a lot of guys, Marines. There were those that you thought of as good friends and others that were acquaintances, fellow Marines that you were not close with and would not trust to cover your back in a pinch.

I have made some great friends here at Mountain Home, the past few months I ran into 3 that I hadn’t seen much recently. For lack of better names I’ll call them Ted, Doug and Jody; whether that’s their real names is not important, it’s just a way for me to keep track of them as I write this post.

Jody is an Owyhee county cowboy that I rode with in the feedlot at Grandview; that’s JR Simplot’s feedlot and it’s a big one, 100,000 head or more.

The cow boss would run a crew of 12 to 15 cowboys, cowboys not being gender specific. I never did a tour of duty there that we didn’t have a few cow girls riding and they were good hands.

Jody was usually paired with other hands for his route but we normally would work together a few hours each week.

I bumped into him recently outside D n B and we had a good visit.

Ted I met in the first few years that we were here. As a cattlemen and a Vet, with our kids intermingled in age we have a lot of great memories together. At times when our kids were in school we would do some one on one brandings. Whoever was catching would stay on his horse and the other cowboy would get off and anchor the calf to a dead man and brand, tag and castrate. Whoever was siting on their horse would wait until the other one was mounted then go back to roping. We’d get pretty competitive at times but it was always a ‘good time’.

I met Doug when he brought me a load of fertilizer out to a county road south of town that I was flying off of. My aircraft at that time was an M18 Dromader and it is a behemoth of an airplane. Depending on the model it had a jump seat so you could haul a loader around to remote loading sites, it was rather handy and we utilized it a lot. The jump seat faced backwards so the passenger could see where you had been but not where you were going. Doug asked for a ride and I told him to hop in.

Aircraft performance is based on outside air temperature, humidity, altitude and weight and balance. It wasn’t particularly hot and elevation was just under 3000 feet. This was close to 30 years ago so Doug and I were both some skinnier but, his 170 pounds that far back in the weight and balance made for a very interesting takeoff.

Crop dusters are use to playing Russian Roulette with the end of a short airstrip and an overloaded aircraft, it’s part of what we do. We load em up as heavy as we dare and away we go.

Take off roll wasn’t abnormal but about the point were the tail of the aircraft would start flying it was not coming up very well. I had plenty of road in front of me and faith in my aircraft so I forged on.

When we were airborne I had to keep extra power in and a tad of flaps to keep the ole girl flying the way I wanted.

We banked left and dropped over a lava rim into the field that I was fertilizing. After the first past the aircraft started to feel better and I finished the load without incident.

After landing Doug thanked me for the ride and I said ‘you’re welcome’. A few years later I ran into him and we reminisced about the ride, I think he new then that it was a bit dicey but he had a good time just the same.

I saw him going in to Walmart a few weeks ago and even wearing a mask I recognized him; we had a great visit. Always been proud to call him my friend.

Friendship and memories, it’s what life is all about.

I stand 5′ 10″ so this picture gives you an idea how big the aircraft was; I’m the guy standing on top. The hopper of the aircraft is just under me so the load on the weight and balance affects the flying characteristics as little as possible, just the same, empty the airplane fly’s nose heavy, loaded it fly’s tail heavy. The farther back any weight is added the more it changes the aircraft’s  in-flight characteristics along with take off performance. With a full load of fertilizer, lets say about 3500 pounds it was already tail heavy. You can see where the jump seat is behind the cockpit that an extra 170 pounds would throw the weight and balance far aft on the aircraft. Needless to say I never gave anyone else a ride with a fully loaded Dromader again.

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