In less than two months, on August 3, 2021, a milestone will be reached for ag aviation. The 100th anniversary of the first aerial application of a crop protection product will have arrived.
According to the National Agricultural Aviation Association on their website dedicated to celebrating and bringing awareness to the anniversary (agaviation100.com), “August 3, 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of an experiment in Ohio when lead arsenate dust was spread over catalpa trees to kill sphinx moth larvae. Under the direction of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Lt. John A. Macready, a U.S. Army pilot, made the first application by aircraft with a modified Curtiss JN-6 “Super Jenny.” The government then utilized aerial application in the Southern states. In 1922, Curtiss biplanes were used to dust cotton fields near Tallulah, Louisiana to control boll-weevils. In 1923, Huff-Daland Dusters, Inc.—the forerunner of Delta Airlines—did the first commercial dusting of crops with its own specially built aircraft.”
I’ve been involved with this great industry for almost 40% of its existence. That’s a very sobering statistic, for me at least. Over the course of the last 40 years, I have seen a tremendous advance in technology and safety. As education and awareness of human factors evolves, and better habits are embraced as the norm, then we (should) have a steady reduction in fatalities and incidents. As a whole, this holds true. There has been a drastic reduction in accidents and fatalities over the last 100 years. But, they are still occurring. And some are the result of not-so-good habits, yet some are out of our control all together. There will always be accidents in ag aviation. That’s not easy to hear, but it’s the honest truth. Things are sometimes simply out of our control. We do, however, have control over a portion of the accidents in ag aviation. Let’s take those out of the equation. As the season starts in the U.S. for a large majority of applicators, take an extra 10-15 seconds, don’t push and live.
The celebration of the agricultural aviation centennial is kicking off as you read this. Events are planned for Oshkosh with live aerial application demonstrations and static displays. Press events and other media productions will all culminate with the Ag Aviation Expo in Savannah, Georgia the first of December. To help kick-off the event, AgAir Update will be hosting its fifth open-house and hangar party on Friday, December 3rd. We are changing things up a bit this year – food trucks and live music will be on site, and a newly paved ramp will keep all the airplanes on asphalt. Shuttles are provided to get you (and your vehicle if you drive) to the hotel. Yes, boiled peanuts will be provided. Watch your email for the event invite and more information. We hope to see you there and in Savannah!