Other Uses For Your Helicopter

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Helicopter pilots have discovered all kinds of useful, and profitable, niches for their flying machines, but New Zealand farmers may be popularizing a new use for the big eggbeaters -- they can help keep their precious grape vines warm at night. Many of the vineyards on the South Island are tucked into valleys and slopes where a gentle airflow prevents frost from forming. But on the plains of Marlborough, according to The Nelson Mail, late winter can bring overnight inversions that trap cold air near the surface and ruin the delicate vines with frost. The solution -- hire a helicopter or two to beat about all night long and mix up that atmosphere. Apparently, if a vineyard has $120,000 worth of grapes at risk, paying $4,000 or so for a night of wind-whacking makes sense. When it's really frosty in Marlborough there can be about 40 helicopters heading there from all over the South Island, The Nelson Mail said. The Southern Hemisphere spring is on the way, though, so the pilots should soon get a chance to catch up on their sleep.