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Lost in Light is a videoblog about small gauge filmmaking featuring weekly posts of home movies, work by artists, articles by preservationists and film scholars, video tutorials and other film gems.





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This week, some pretty adept piloting of a cropduster near Emmetsburg, Iowa, circa 1953. This pilot really has some sweet moves as he swoops overhead, narrowly avoiding an unwelcome meeting with the road below and the heads of onlookers.Contributor Casey T. in Virginia, USA, asked his grandfather (and cameraman) Paul H. of Waukee, Iowa, to recount some stories about this footage, and here’s what he said:

George Bryant was the manager of the Emmetsburg, Iowa airport, and was the pilot of the plane. He did a lot of crop spraying. Obviously he was a very good pilot. He was able to fly over telephone lines, cross the country road and fly under the electric line.

He sprayed herbicide on the corn. When he landed on the road after spraying, your [Casey’s] great grandfather, Paul L. Huscher, who is in one of the pictures by the plane, jokingly asked George if he was detasseling corn. Hybrid corn was detasseled for cross pollination. George flew so low that corn tassels were pulled off and hung on the spray bar.

Great grandmother Nellie Huscher, and great grandfather Ray Wright, were there that day watching. Grandmother and I were there also. I think George showed off a little.

As a little side note, George Bryant and my father, Paul L. Huscher had a little car accident in Emmetsburg some time after these pictures were taken. I figured George was a better pilot than he was a driver. All were still friends.

Also, as a side note, George had trained your great grandfather Ray Wright, to fly. Unfortunately Ray hadn’t told your great grandmother, Louise Wright, about this, and when the private pilot’s license came in the mail, Louise saw it first and burned it. I don’t think Grandpa Wright flew much after that anyway.

High-quality raw footage of this excerpt and more from this reel of home movies are available for download and reuse under a Creative Commons license at the Internet Archive. See our File Directory for a link.

Music: Cinema Volta, “2005-11-03” from the Podsafe Music Network


Comment from Robert
Time: December 3, 2007, -5

Exhilarating stuff! Truly wonderful footage. Really sent me.

Got the sense he was flying just a tad too close to the ground on occasion. But what a pilot.

It was just under ten years before Rachel Carson’s magnificent book, Silent Spring exposed the devastating effects DDT and its ilk were having on the food chain – especially birds. And certainly us. Incredible to watch the free flow of potent chemicals on that scale.

Lost in beautiful light again.

Pingback from cropduster accident
Time: July 27, 2008, -5

[…] L. Huscher had a little car accident in Emmetsburg some time after these pictures were taken. … Duster Killed in Dodge County While Inspecting Chopper – Wisconsin Ag ConnectionA long-time […]

Comment from Georgia Munderloh
Time: March 15, 2009, -5

That was my Dad. Loved seeing it again!

Comment from Kris Levine
Time: March 15, 2009, -5

That is my grandfather. Thank you for putting this out here!!!!

Comment from Barb Ferrell
Time: March 15, 2009, -5

George Bryant was my dad also and I loved watching this againg. I must admit at the time it was scary at times for his family. Thank you so much! Is there more of this excerpt that we can see?

Comment from Jim
Time: September 26, 2009, -5

What great fun to see this! I was a summer employee of George’s from 1971 – 1977 in a modest ground bound job. He could fly like that for > 12 hours on a long northern IA summer days. He flew that low to make sure the wing downwash planted the herbicide past the corn leaves and onto the weeds, and that it did not drift into other fields. He was a great pilot with fantastic endurance and skill. He bought lunches and dinners at the Redwood. A great boss. I saw him move to callair aircraft in the early 1970s. I loved seing his V tailed Bonanza fly over town. I never got to take lessons from George, but inspired, I did become a pilot in later life. I call my autopilot “George” in tribute, because of its precision.
Thanks for posting the film!

Comment from Dave
Time: July 4, 2010, -5

Glad I found this site. I worked for a crop duster in 1949 at Lovington NM. I was 15 and worked for flying lessons. The duster was a J3 Cub with clipped wingtips. Engine was a 90HP with chrome cyls. I would load seven 50lb bags of dust (350 lbs) and with the prop blowing the dust back in my face. Then he would be off again.
The land around Lovington is so level you could land about anywhere. Often wonder if I would suffer long term effects of dust
like 2-4-D, Toxaphene, etc. So far, no, I’m 77 in good health!