The essence of Keep Turning…

The essence of Keep Turning…

One day while driving to the office, I saw the 510P Thrush I used to fly turning over the treetops. I looked at the yellow aircraft and wondered aloud how many times have I made the same turn back to the field; time after time after time.

That got me to thinking and doing a little math while I was driving. Just how many times in his career does an ag-pilot perform the procedure turn, or any turn for that matter, back into the field? If one uses a rule of thumb that 1/3 of ag flight time is ferrying to and from the field, 1/3 is flying across the field spraying and 1/3 of the time is in the turns, a calculation could be made.

Of course, the 1/3 assumption won’t apply in lots of cases, depending on how close the field is to the airstrip and the length of the spray runs. But, it is a starting point and I’m willing to speculate the 1/3 assumption is relatively close to fact.

If the ag-pilot has 10,000 hours of ag time logged, using the 1/3 assumption, then approximately 3,300 hours of that time was in a turn. Should one pick 30 seconds for the average time to make a procedure turn, the math starts to come together. Sure, there are 20-second turns and there are 45-second turns, but you have to decide on a common denominator and 30 seconds is as good as any.

Using 3,300 hours of being in the turn multiplied by 60 minutes, the calculation works out to 198,000 minutes that allows for 396,000 of those 30-second average time turns in a 10,000-hour ag flying career. Any way you look at it, 400,000 turns back to the field is several lifetimes of flying turns for most other pilots. When you consider today’s median ag-flight time is probably closer to 20,000 or more hours, there is a significant number of ag-pilots with over a million turns in a flying career.

I realize some will pick apart this analogy and mathematical exercise. There is no way to know accurately how many turns per 10,000 flight hours are made, and really, who cares? Well, maybe it does matter as this exercise brings to light the importance of one of the most critical components to ag flying, getting the aircraft back into the field.

I could get a little nutty with all this; does this mean the advance button on the GPS has been pressed 400,000 times per 10,000 hours? If yours has lasted over 1,000 flight hours, it must have a life expectancy of at least 40,000 presses; a lot of clicks for a well made button.

When AgAir Update adopted the slogan, “Keep Turning…”, it becomes evident this is one thing that every ag-pilot has a strong affiliation with, flying the aircraft back into the field so the “money handle” can be used. Now, that’s another topic for discussion, since actually moving a spray handle is becoming an antiquity in itself.

Until next month, Keep Turning…


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