I got back up here to Brewster on May 6th. This year the area had a mild winter and an early spring. Each growing season seems to get earlier and earlier. Normally the contract to which I’m assigned begins around the second week of June and runs for a minimum of 45 days or until all the cherries are picked. This year, the grower put my ship on standby on May 20th. All of the growers in the area were in a panic as well, wanting their ships on contract early. This meant that we were scrambling to have the helicopters ready. So it was kind of hectic from the day I arrived.
I was in charge of hiring and training the new pilots this year. Even that didn't go smoothly. One guy, barely two weeks into his training suddenly left for a better job. That kind of put is in a bind; if he'd told me that he had other hot irons in the fire I probably wouldn't have hired him. Another, an older guy who we thought would be good turned out not to be. I had to let him go.
I've hired and fired a lot of people in the course of my various jobs over the years. Neither part of that process is easy. You agonize over resumes and interviews, never knowing if the people you hire are really going to work out. If they do it’s great! But when they don’t, it’s not easy to let them go. But it must be done.
Things have kind of calmed down now. We've got a bunch of good, mostly new pilots. And we've got the right people in the right places...I think (knock on wood). Which is good because it's been a wet year so far, and we've all been flying a lot. Many growers have already started picking, trying to get their cherries to market before the Big Dog in the area floods the market with his. I imagine that everyone will be done picking a couple of weeks sooner than last year. And then we can relax. So far...so good.