Darrin Pluhar grew up on a farming and ranching operation forty miles northwest of Miles City, Montana. At a very young age, he became actively involved in the day-to-day agricultural activities. In addition, he was also exposed to aviation, specifically aerial application, as his father, Art, was a “crop duster” flying a Pawnee for a local operator. Later, his older brother, Dennis, started his own aerial application business, where Darrin got his first exposure to the business as a flagger, loader and ground crew.
After high school, Darrin went to Montana State University to become an engineer. But after one year, he realized this career choice just wasn’t that attractive anymore and decided to pursue agricultural aviation (after admittedly realizing that he had failed to see the forest for the trees!). In 1989, Darrin received an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Agricultural Aviation from the University of Minnesota – Crookston. In 1995, Darrin received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Science from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT.
Darrin purchased his first Ag airplane, a 1979 Cessna Ag. Husky, and began flying for his brother Dennis. In 1996, Darrin purchased an aerial application business in Ekalaka and established Plu’s Flying Service. Since the main season is April 1st to July 10th in Montana, relationships with other operators around the nation have allowed Darrin’s company to continue to generate revenue by flying in other regions during the late Summer and early Fall. As the business has grown, so has the fleet of aircraft. In 2002, a 1995 Weatherly was purchased to meet the increasing workload and then in 2007, he invested in a 400-gallon capacity, turbine-powered Air Tractor.
Darrin has been actively involved with the Association of Montana Aerial Applicators (AMAA) for many years, serving on their Board since 2000 and as president from 2010-2011. Darrin was appointed as AMAA’s NAAA Board rep in 2013 and served as the 2016 NAAA Treasurer.
An advocate for training and safety, Darrin actively promotes and encourages aerial applicators to attend the PAASS program and helps conduct AMAA’s annual Operation S.A.F.E. pattern check.