Corny display honors C-130 Guard unit
LEWISTOWN, Ill. -- Larry Webb created a maze and artistic renderings of a C-130 and American Flag in 6 acres of corn on his 1,200-acre farm. After making the design on his computer, he used a weed mower to cut out the design in the field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Todd Pendleton)
by Tech. Sgt. Allen Marshall
182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
8/27/2004 - GREATER PEORIA AIRPORT, Ill. (AFPN) -- Pilots flying over the rural farmland near Lewistown, Ill., may be shocked to see the likeness of a C-130 Hercules etched into the landscape hundreds of feet below.
This C-130, modeled after the neighboring Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing aircraft, is not some mysterious crop circle. It is a result of the hard work of patriotic and community-minded farmer Larry Webb.
Encompassing more than 6 acres of corn on Mr. Webb’s 1,200-acre farm, the C-130 is not only an artistic statement to aerial passers-by, but also extends into an intricately designed corn maze. And, as if the C-130 and maze designs were not enough, Mr. Webb also laid the C-130 outline across an American Flag background in the field of corn.
“There are a lot of (guardsmen) in Lewistown,” said the lifelong farmer. “Our families play together. I know a lot of those guys, and I love to hear them fly over.”
The respect he has for his country’s military helped inspire his 6-acre wonder. That inspiration alone was not the only driving factor. Fund raising played a big role in his decision to create the maze that accompanies the military aircraft. The maze raises money for programs at the Lewistown High School. Mr. Webb pays homage to both the Air National Guard and his local high school placing the numbers “182,” for the 182nd AW, in one corner of the display while the letters “LHS,” for Lewistown High School, emblazon the ground just below the American Flag and C-130.
Some may think creating a maze and artistic renderings of a C-130 and American Flag may sound like a lot of work. Well, those people would be right. Crafting the “crop art” took planning, technology and good-old-fashion elbow grease.
The first step in the process was to plant the corn. Mr. Webb planted four different hybrids of corn in the plot. He used different hybrids in the hopes that the various color schemes created by each hybrid would help to enhance his design, especially with regards to the American flag.
“The stripes don’t show very well,” Mr. Webb said in reference to the American flag.
Although the stripes may not jump out at the naked eye, the flag’s size is exactly proportionate to the official dimensions of “Old Glory.”
Overall, Mr. Webb said the planting took a day and a half, which is pretty time-consuming considering he normally plants 6 acres in about half an hour.
“Twelve acres per hour is pretty easy when you are really moving,” he said.
The next step in the process involved technology. Before the design could be crafted in the field, Mr. Webb had to design his art on a computer.
“I have zero artistic talent,” Mr. Webb said. “So, I had to use a computer to help with this. I have a program that has the capability to place a (photo) image behind an acreage of land you’re trying to map. It took two days of sitting at a computer just to plot the airplane.”
Mr. Webb used his computer program and global-positioning technology to plot out points of reference in the field. He used a hand-held Global Positioning System unit to geographical reference his position in the field, which showed him lines in exact proportion to the field and his position. With the help of the computer program and his GPS, he outlined the area with red flags.
“There was nothing easy about it,” Mr. Webb said.
Once the area was plotted, it was time to put the paint to the canvas, so to speak. Mr. Webb used a weed mower, and it took him most of the day to cut out the design and the maze.
His current creation is not his first attempt at something similar. Mr. Webb had designed corn mazes in the past to help raise money for the local high-school football team. But this effort added something extra -- the C-130.
“I’m one of those people who (is) not satisfied easily,” Mr. Webb said in reference to his previous maze work.
This year, Mr. Webb wanted his field to be more than just a fund-raiser. A community outreach event held by the 182nd AW gave Mr. Webb an idea.
“I got a ride on one of the Guard’s C-130s,” Mr. Webb said. “It was amazing, and while I was there I got a name tag with a picture of a C-130. It kind of hit me one day that I could do something with that picture of that airplane.”
What he did was use that picture for his computer program.
First Lt. Steven Rice, 182nd AW’s communications flight commander, is a resident of Lewistown and was involved in getting Mr. Webb on the C-130 orientation flight.
“I knew that he had been impressed by the orientation flight,” Lieutenant Rice said. “But I was surprised to here what he was planning to do, and the results are quite impressive not to mention gratifying for a member of the Air National Guard.”
Mr. Webb’s creation has caught the eye of many guardsmen with the wing, including its commander, Col. William Robertson.
“The C-130 corn maze is a tremendous tribute to the guardsmen who are members of this unit,” Colonel Robertson said. “The creativity, time and effort of Mr. Webb are definitely appreciated by all our members. There are pictures all over the base. I can tell you the aviators love to look at it. The flag highlight in the background is absolutely phenomenal. He may say he is not very artistic, but he’s a genius in my mind. The tribute to Lewistown High School is a nice touch, too. Some of our guys attended that school, so they get double the viewing pleasure.
“I would like to thank Mr. Webb for such a great tribute to the 182d Airlift Wing,” the colonel said. “It’s nice to know we have the support out there.”
When Mr. Webb recently spoke about his 6-acre creation, he sported a T-shirt with a picture of “The Field of Dreams.” The movie, starring Kevin Costner, was filmed mostly in an Iowa cornfield not very far from Lewistown. Mr. Webb certainly did not here voices telling him “If you build it, they will come,” like in the movie, but he was inspired.
“When I got that flight on the C-130, I heard some of the (guardsmen) talking, and they said some people don’t like the noise they make when they fly over,” Mr. Webb said. “They said some people even complain. Well, I tried to do something to let these guys know that not everyone is complaining about what they do. I, personally, love it.”