My Dad was a crop-dusting pilot.
We lived in a small country town, and my 3 siblings and I went to a district High School here in Tassie. At this school, we would have full school assemblies outside, and more than once our headmaster would have to stop the assembly and say “we will just wait until Mr Embury has flown over”, as he would fly low over the school going in to land after starting the day at dawn (much to the embarrassment of my siblings and I!) He had a great sense of humour and thought this was hilarious!
We had some great adventures over the years including trips in the back of the plane to the various airstrips around the state where he’d be working.
A plane Dad flew was used in the Mad Max Movie “Beyond Thunderdome”. Dad was suggested as a possible pilot to fly it in the movie, but it was the peak season for his work here, and he would have missed too much. Imagine how my siblings and I felt when we heard he couldn’t do it! He took us to see the movie as a consolation prize though!
Dad was also in the paper a few times during my childhood. Once for saving a precious crop by scaring cows off it (they had got through a fence), Dad not only scared the cows off but dropped notes to the farmer who found them later after wondering what he was doing circling their property! He also hit power lines and was on the front of the local paper on Christmas Eve. They were new and not marked on the map he had and very hard to see at dawn on a sunny morning when he started work.
For all the dangers and all the talk of how unsafe the chemicals used in crop dusting can be, it was ironic that a job Dad took in his 20′s pulling down an old building to earn some cash to get his pilot’s licence, would end up causing his death. Dad died in 2004 (when my oldest children were just 3 and 4) from Mesothelioma traced back to inhaling asbestos in that building he helped pull down.
I wish my children still had their Grandpa, and that our youngest had met him. We remind them all the time and tell these stories and also how he would ring me from his mobile and all I would hear would be static. We’d race outside our house (in a country area) and sure enough, a few seconds later he’d fly over the house on his way to his airstrip. The neighbours must have wondered what was going on each time he was able to do it and the kids would be pointing and yelling “Grandpa, Grandpa!”
Enjoy your time with your Dad this Father’s Day if you are still lucky enough to have him in your life.