About midway through the 1983 film “Superman III,” the Man of Steel swoops gracefully above a cornfield a mere inches above the stalks on the way to another heroic rescue.
Jacksonville’s Dennis Jarman requires mechanical assistance but has seen life from that same perspective.
A pilot by trade for the state of Illinois, Jarman takes three weeks off every July to fly a helicopter across the Burrus Hybrids cornfields to pollinate the crops. It was as a young man that his passion for flight was fired when he encountered a man performing that same task.
“Even as a kid, I was fascinated by mechanical devices, especially planes,” Jarman said. “I was always looking up as they passed overhead. Then one day, I was driving a pickup truck along a country road and a helicopter came down and began spraying a field right next to me. He flew parallel with me all the way along the field. The copter had no door and I saw the pilot wave to me as we traveled. I remember thinking that had to be just about the coolest job in the world.”
Nearly 30 years have passed since that day and today Jarman is living that dream. He first earned a license to fly airplanes and later helicopters.
These days he spends almost as much time above the ground as on it. His enthusiasm for aviation spilled over from his professional life when he became a flight instructor. He has flown with more than 100 people, many of them first-time learners and others receiving their required two-year re-certification.
One might expect his more harrowing experiences to have come at the hands of a beginning student but Jarman said his closest call came from an experienced pilot.
“This fellow was interested in learning a few new tricks,” he said. “We went up and, because he was a licensed pilot, I didn’t have the secondary foot pedal assembly down in position on my side of the plane. And then, suddenly, we headed down and went into a spin. I needed the pedals to correct the problem, but they were locked away. Fortunately, we managed to get the plane under control while we were still at an adequate altitude.”
And flying enhances his leisure pursuits as well. Where most folks might hop in a car and drive to a local diner for lunch, Jarman is part of a group that hits the airways almost every Saturday morning and has breakfast or lunch in some distant city.
One of his favorite jaunts is to Sikeston, Missouri, where they eat at Lambert’s Cafe, the famous “Home of the Throwed Rolls.” He said there’s always one planeload making those Saturday excursions and sometimes as many as five aircraft.
Jarman plans in the near future to complete the licensing requirements to operate float planes for landing on water. He also hopes to do the same with gyrocopters, which are sort of a hybrid between airplanes and helicopters.
For Dennis Jarman, not even the sky is the limit.