Pilots spread their wings to help at harvest

Pilots4Harvest2020 movement proves a big hit as harvest kicks off in the north

Cropping
Qantas pilot Lindsay Menkens of Brisbane is working hard this harvest, helping out on a property at Moree.

Qantas pilot Lindsay Menkens of Brisbane is working hard this harvest, helping out on a property at Moree.

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Flying Dreamliners one day to driving tractors the next.

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A band of experienced pilots have flown in to assist with the busy harvest this year after their day-to-day jobs ground to a halt seven months ago.

Headers, chaser bins and tractors were buzzing around Moree this week with a large majority of the seasonal workers operating them sourced through the Pilots4Harvest2020 movement.

The social media group connects farmers with aviation industry members in need of work after being stood down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queensland-based Qantas pilots Lindsay Menkens and Jim Synott landed at Wallambah, Moree, on Sunday after they were stood down from their roles flying jumbo jets and Dreamliners internationally in March.

Four headers and three chaser bins fired up on Saturday to pull off the 1500 hectare barley crop with the pilots, university students and local contractors all required.

The pair have settled in until harvest concludes before Christmas with the machinery is fired up from 8.30am and runs until about 11pm.

Qantas pilot Lindsay Menkens with Vicki Gall of Wallambah, Moree, during barley harvest.

Qantas pilot Lindsay Menkens with Vicki Gall of Wallambah, Moree, during barley harvest.

While Lindsay had owned a vineyard and managed his brother's Christmas tree farm in the past, the barley harvest was a new experience for both of them.

Both agreed they never expected to be driving tractors but were grateful for the opportunity.

"This is not what I'm used to but it is what I'm going to do," Jim said.

"This is something really quite out of the box but when we got here yesterday you could see the absolute delight from Vicki and Graeme (Gall)...but it's a two way street because we have a job."

Property owner Vicki Gall was appreciative of the pilots and empathised with their situation.

"We would have got three or four responses in the first night," she said.

"They know how to handle gear so once they get used to anything new they will be as good as ever.

"They are very excited just to be part of a team again."

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