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Aerial sprayer and TV star

Brennan Jardine played a major role in “Dust Up,” a reality TV show about crop dusting that ran on the History Channel in 2011.

“Dust Up” delivered an up-close and personal look at Brennan Jardine, his father Bud Jardine and their competitor Travis Karle as they ran their crop dusting businesses. The publicity matieral about the show said, “These three are NOT your typical pilots. … These crop-gun pilots buzz inches above the fields — dodging trees and telephone wires — to deliver their payloads while entertaining roadside audiences with their death-defying feats. With high stakes drama on the ground and peril in the air, ‘Dust Up’ features compelling stories about family feuds, resourcefulness and survival in the rural heartland.”

The idea for the show came from Jardine’s sister and brother-in-law, who were already working in the acting and film industry.

“With all these different reality shows, the idea came up to do something on Nipawin, where there are spray planes, some family conflict (between me and my dad), and a new guy getting into the business pushing quite hard and stepping on some toes,” explained Jardine.

Jardine’s sister and brother-in-law put the concept together and pitched the idea (including a demo reel) to the History Channel. “The next thing we knew,” said Jardine, “we’re getting followed around by TV cameras.

“When they first came out, they told me the best case scenario is that we just forget the camera are there taping, because viewers want it natural. That was easy for me. I have to do that every time I fly to do my job well.”

Still, when it came down to it, Jardine said, “If my sister hadn’t been involved, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

The man in the plane

Jardine was raised on a grain farm at Torch River, near Nipawin, Sask. In the spring of 1970, when Jardine was about four years old, his father, Bud Jardine, began teaching himself how to spray as a flying farmer.

Brennan Jardine liked flying, and as he grew up, he also gravitated toward the spray plane.

“I grew up marking the fields, because we didn’t have GPS then. Really early on, we flagged by ground. I did a lot of plane loading and working for other farmers, answering phone calls, and helping with the business. So, I learned it all from the ground, up.”

But he was eager to get into business for himself. “I got into flying when I had an opportunity — having time and money — to go down to Arizona and take my private licence.” Eventually, Jardine went on to get his commercial license in Melfort, Sask.

Just out of high school, Brennan Jardine bought his first airplane. He worked with his father, and also gained experience working for other companies in Manitoba and Alberta. Since 2008, he has owned and operated Brennan Jardine Aerial Spraying. This father-son competition for business was a key angle for the “Dust Up” reality show.

“My business today is what I’d call a work in progress. When I started, I had one airplane, and then got one more. … I had quite a setback when one of my planes crashed and I had no insurance on it.”

But in the end, the accident gave Brennan Jardine a chance to expand. “I ended up getting one bigger plane. So, I now have two airplanes (one small and one medium).”

“One thing I do differently than many operators is that at least 80 per cent of my work is done off the road, so I can get a lot of acres done with a smaller airplane, more than the average.”

TV Aftermath

What was it like for Brennan Jardine?

“Everyone seems to like the show, but it’s created some conflict in the industry, with us being filmed and how it might be put together to reflect the industry. So, between the family and industry, I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. I went with family. There were a couple of things taken out of context, but more positive came out of it than negative.”

The first time Jardine saw the show was at the world premier showing in Nipawin.

“Some farmers, after watching the ‘Dust Up’ show, said they always appreciated the work I do, but until they saw the show, they didn’t realize the kind of risks we take every day. So, I think, overall, it brought greater appreciation for the spray plane.

Since having done the “Dust Up” show, Jardine said, “It’s made me reflect on things a little bit, with a lot of people asking me questions about my life and work after having seen the show.” †

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