Aerial Application in the News

July 10, 2014: School starts program to train crop dusters (Tri-State Neighbor–Sioux Falls, S.D.)
With the average age of crop dusters at about 60—which is even higher than that of farmers—and the number of those pilots dwindling, two instructors at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, S.D., figured they might be able to improve the situation. ¶ Thus, a program called the ag aviation option has been added to the institute’s agriculture and aviation departments. Read more

March 1, 2014: For Avon Park cropduster, the sky's the limit (Highlands Today)
Avon Park, Fla. — As an Alabama boy growing up on farm near the Florida-Alabama border, Jerry Wise would watch crop-dusting, single-engine planes dart like field flies up and down over the surrounding acres over fields of cotton and peanuts. Before he was a teenager, Wise decided he too would take his career to the air, and 45 years later his career is still taking off. Using two of his own planes and one leased, from up in the air and flying sometimes just a mere three to five feet above tree lines, Wise helps keep trees and plants healthy, produce hearty plants and keep growers and farmers happy.
Read more

February 2014: Chopper Support (MyFord Magazine)
Imagine you are in a tiny compact car, your nose a couple of feet from the glass. Visualize chopping away the dashboard, engine compartment and the front half of the floor, and extend the glass down in a curve to your feet. Lose the doors.  Now tighten your shoulder harness because a giant has picked up your car by the rear bumper and dropped it over a mile-high cliff.  That’s roughly what it’s like to dive 4,400 feet in a Bell Long Ranger helicopter toward the Salmon River Valley near Idaho’s Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Areas. Read more

Feb. 19, 2014: East Idaho man leads nation’s ag pilots (Capital Press)
Terreton, Idaho — Leif Isaacson sees potential for unmanned aircraft, commonly called drones, to help aerial applicators measure windspeed and weather conditions above fields—scouting work his business now conducts with a helicopter.  But as the National Agricultural Aviation Association’s new president, he’s more concerned that broader use of the technology—both in agriculture and commercially—could pose a safety hazard for his members. Read more

Nov. 8, 2013: Farmers using aerial seeding for winter cover crops (The Kent County (Md.) News)
The next time you drive along a county road and see a small plane swooping low over the fields, don’t automatically assume it’s a “crop duster,” applying insecticide to the crops. Nowadays, it’s a fair bet that they’re doing aerial seeding—planting cover crops to prevent nutrient loss over the winter. Read more

Sept. 2, 2013: Agricultural Aviators: Flying In For Safety (Crop Life   magazine  )
Normally, agricultural aviators don’t have much of an audience when they’re out spraying crops, but this past April 15 was an exception. There were more than 70 guests watching 10 planes and one helicopter, from sunup until just about sundown at Chorman Airport in Greenwood, DE. The occasion was a Professional Application Analysis Clinic for Chorman Spraying, LLC. Read more

Aug. 28, 2013: On the Job: Crop Dusting (Cecil Whig–Elkton, Md.)
John Gooden of Viola, Del., owns First State Ag Air Inc. Gooden sprays, seeds, and fertilize southern Cecil County in his 2013 402B Air Tractor. His average spraying speed is around 150 miles an hour. This is his fifth plane. When he crop dusts, he is 10 to 12 feet above the canopy of the trees. Read more

Aug. 10, 2013: Halstad man scourge of Red River Valley mosquitoes (The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (N.D.))
Halstad, Minn. — When Dean Solum first walked onto an airfield at 19 years old, he was just looking for a summer gig. He didn’t know the first thing about flying and wasn’t planning to sprout wings. ¶ Now, 30 years later, you could almost mistake him for one of the birds. Read more

July 8, 2013: Safety, environment key issues for agricultural aircraft (AgriNews)
Wakarusa, Ind. — There’s no question about it—technology has changed and impacted the world of agriculture dramatically. This is especially true in the area of crop dusting, where changes have made the industry more precise and safe. Read more

September 27, 2012: Air-fire support training held at Fort Morgan Airport (The Fort Morgan (Colo.) Times)
Local firefighters had a chance to see just what agricultural aircraft operators can do to help them when a wildfire breaks out during a training session at Fort Morgan Airport. Read more

September 6, 2012: The Role of Aerial Application (CropLife magazine)
Factors associated with aerial application’s explosive growth over the past few years include the advent of new corn fungicides, and advances in flight technology that allow for more timely, efficient and effective crop protection product applications. Read more

August 2012: The LOWEST FLYING job anywhere: Thrush Turboprop Ag Airplanes Keep the World's Crops Growing (Sport Aviation magazine)
“THIS IS WHERE AN AG PILOT SPENDS HIS LIFE,” Thrush test pilot Terry Humphrey says through the intercom. We are in a steep bank turn about 250 feet above the trees. Terry has no back pressure on the stick, so the wing is unloaded and the airspeed is dropping from 140 mph down to less than 100. Read more

June 18, 2012: Family-owned aerial business comes to rescue of Cedaredge (The Daily Sentinel–Grand Junction, Colo.)
Leonard Felix Jr. didn’t need an official invitation. A friend was in danger. Fresh off a day’s work spraying fields around his airstrip in Olathe, the 67-year-old Felix saw white smoke billowing below Grand Mesa and just north of Cedaredge, where he knew there was a cluster of homes. Felix also knew that same smoking stretch of land was close to the home of a friend, Scott Morris. Read more

June 2012: Dancing in the Air (Wheat Life magazine)
It can be argued that there are few sights as exciting across an agricultural landscape as that of an agricultural aerial applicator—or crop duster in layman’s terms—at work. A fixture of the agricultural way of life since 1921, the seemingly daring maneuvers as the plane draws itself parallel with the ever changing landscape attracts the attention of anyone whose spirit has a tendency for adventure. Read more beginning on pg. 30

May 30, 2012: Farmers stall the march of the Mormon crickets (Deseret News)
Beaver County, Utah — A month ago, Utah farmers and ranchers were staring down an advancing horde of bugs. It was the biggest onslaught of Mormon crickets in eight years. But an all-out air attack by state and federal agencies appears to have blunted, if not wiped out, the insect attack. Read more

May 27, 2012: The men in the flying machines (Chico (Calif.) Enterprise-Record)
Gridley, Calif. — As the winds blew intermittently, the yellow planes at Jones Flying Service had often been waiting on standby. About a dozen flying services work the valley, and Jones is the busiest, based near Gridley. Read more

April 27, 2012: Precision Pays Podcast: How aerial applicators use GPS
Because of the advancements in technology, the agriculture industry has come a long way from where we started. The aerial application business is no exception. In this Precision Pays Podcast, we examine how aerial application has become more accurate and more efficient. Read more/Listen in

April 27, 2012: Flying way under the radar: Aerial applicators stay low to spray local fields (Wenatchee World)
Quincy, Wash. — The key to flying eight to 10 feet off the ground at 130 miles per hour is knowing where your obstacles are. Read more

April 27, 2012: ‘Barnstorming, It's Not’ (Wenatchee World)
Quincy, Wash. — Mark Brown said one of the myths of the [agricultural aviation] business is that it’s low-tech. “Barnstorming, it’s not,” he said. “It’s computerized equipment and real high-tech software and expensive equipment. We use GPS for guidance; it’s accurate to within inches when you’re going 130 miles an hour.” Read more

April 27, 2012: Pilots: Drones pose major safety threat in civilian air space (Nextgov)
Andrew Moore, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, which represents operators of crop duster aircraft, which fly under visual flight rules, said FAA must ensure that drones and pilots adhere to see-and-avoid requirements to avert midair collisions. Read more

April 6, 2012: Crop dusting — not for the faint of heart (Albany (Ga.) Herald)
Dawson, Ga. — A merican agriculture took a positive turn in August, 1921, when Lt. John A Macready sailed over an Ohio catalpa grove to dump a load of powdered lead arsenate on invading Catalpa Sphinx Moths. Read more

March 18, 2012: Airplane missions help replant defiled land on Blue Mountain (The Standard Speaker)
Slatington, Pa. — Seed spread by airplanes is reviving plant life atop the Blue Mountain in Carbon County where metal dust deadly to plants used to fall from the sky. Read more

November 2011: Fighting Fires: See the red plumes of retardant dropping from red and white planes? The cavalry has arrived (Texas Co-op Power)
On August 30, aerial firefighter Marc Mullis abruptly ends a telephone interview mid-sentence. “I’m getting a signal,” he says, referring to a dispatch on his cellphone. “We just got a fire. I gotta go.” Read more

November 2011: Landing a Seat: Wanted: Ag pilots who can fly tail wheel, stick and rudder—and tell the difference between soybeans and alfalfa (Texas Co-op Power)
The pilots file into the room, looking for a seat in a circle of chairs. There’s plenty of room—no need to jockey for position. But mere minutes into a mentoring session at the 2011 Texas Agricultural Aviation Association (TAAA) convention, a harsh message is sinking in: Not just anybody can become an ag pilot. It takes someone special to land a seat. Read more

November 2011: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Crop dusters no more: modern-day aerial applicators leave the past in the dust (Texas Co-op Power)
Several years ago, George Mitchell received a complaint phone call from a woman saying a low-flying airplane from his Beaumont-based aerial spraying business was going to crash into her house. Mitchell explained that: A) such a crash would kill the pilot, who certainly had no intention of dying that day; and B) the pilot was seeding rice, which required making low flying passes over a field. Read more

November 2011: The Building of a Bird: Even as we pull a couple of Gs, it’s smooth soaring in a one-of-a-kind plane making only its second flight (Texas Co-op Power)
Our freshly painted, shiny yellow bird waits outside the Air Tractor factory, resting on a patch of concrete. With blue stripes racing along the sides and up the tail and blue ribbons wrapping the ends of the wings, the airplane looks like a ready-to-open present. Read more

September 2011: On the Wing: When crop-threatening bugs and diseases descend, ag pilots soar into action (Texas Co-op Power)
No doubt, it’s a high-risk occupation: Almost every ag pilot I interviewed has made an emergency landing or knows of a colleague killed in a crash. But these pilots ask the public to understand that they aren’t daredevils deliberately dodging trees, power lines and communication towers for the fun of it. They are meticulous professionals who care passionately about their work and the farmers they serve. Read more

September 2011: WOOM! Whitten’s Picture-Perfect Day of Flying (Texas Co-op Power)
The faded orange wind sock is stretched out stiff. It’s photo day—and, we hope, flying day—at Brett Whitten’s place near Snook where the palm trees that he planted almost two decades ago wave their brisk welcome. Read more

August 16, 2010: Dusting crops a boon, necessity for farmers (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)
Beaman, Iowa — Crop dusters keep Iowa’s farm fields and the economy healthy. Read more

August 15, 2010: Technology gets in the way; Rising concerns for crop-dusters (Amarillo Globe-News)
The crop-dusting industry still struggles to shed the image of scarf-wearing, barnstorming crop-dusters flying vintage biplanes of yesteryear. Today, crop-dusters—or aerial applicators—are on the cutting edge of technology, flying multimillion-dollar planes. Read more

August 14, 2009: Flying Low Is Flying High As Demand for Crop-Dusters Soars: For Pilots Outstanding in the Field, Killing Weeds From the Air Can Pay Off (Wall Street Journal)
Syracuse, Kan. — In a tough job market for the aviation industry, demand for one niche is booming: crop-dusting. But if you're an aspiring pilot like Ben Peterson, you've got to get past guys like Dusty Dowd. Read more