November 20, 2018
Standing on the runway, the noise got louder and louder as the plane approached….then with a WHOOSH of air it flew right over me, a streak of yellow up into the sky. Welcome to just one of the thrills from my day spent at K&P Flying Service, owned and operated by FarmHer Brenda Watts.
When our crew pulled into the tidy operation, we knew we were at the right place, by the shiny yellow Air Tractor plane sitting under the open air hangar, surrounded by fields of growing plants. Brenda is no stranger to the farm. She owns fairground herself, right there around her flying operation.
The company was actually started by Brenda’s son Kelly a number of years ago. When he made the decision to leave the business in 1999, Brenda stepped in and has been operating it successfully. Today, still, she is up before the sun, making breakfast for her Pilot, Don and Mechanic, Patrick. While there, I learning that due to the extreme heat they can experience in Arkansas, they like to fly early and late for more consistency in their application. Throughout the day Brenda runs the business; dealing with customers, communicating with her crew, and of course, making lunch for everyone in the tidy office kitchen. She answers the phone - both inside the office and outside at the hangar, writes up orders and manages the chemicals used for application and oversees the safety of her crew.
On the early summer day I visited Brenda, the heat was already rising. She worked quickly and efficiently with her crew - who obviously mean the world to her. At one point a customer drove up in his truck, needing a quick application on his field. The team set to work, changing over the equipment on the plane, getting the chemicals ready and loaded. True to what she had told me, Brenda can do it all there, except fly the plane. She leaves that up to her trusted and experienced pilot, Don, who has worked for her for 14 years.
My crew and I went to the end of the runway, to catch the plane in action as it took off. There they came up with the idea that I could do a promotion shot for the TV show as the pilot took off. We tried a few times, and I failed each and every time. On the last try I finally got it out but I have to tell you - hearing an airplane bearing down the runway behind you as you face the other direction is enough to make anybody's knees and voice shake!
We ended our night long before Brenda. She and her crew work all the way until dark, then clean the plane off and get it ready for the next day. Brenda is a FarmHer who looks forward and makes things happen. She took over a business and has grown it to be a successful ag operation, helping farmers throughout Arkansas raise healthy and bountiful crops. She even became the first woman to be President of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). The care, concern and focus she puts into her operation is clear in her customers, employees and service to the industry. Brenda is an Arkansas FarmHer, through and through.
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