Recently, a good friend from Idaho, (and a great scholar) made a series of posts on one of the many social media groups floating around explaining the importance of learning the ropes of our business before jumping feet first into the airplane. I read through all of the posts and comments and must commend him for breaking it down and comparing it to a profession most are familiar with.
To summarize, obtaining the goal of being an acre-producing, money making agricultural pilot is absolutely going to take more than a year of “working on the ground”. He compared the journey to that of a nursing student with the goal of becoming a nurse anesthetist. The road to becoming a nurse anesthetist takes about 7-8 years. This correlates to a 0 time pilot. A commercial pilot that wants to break into the business would correlate to a nurse already through school.
You simply cannot expect to jump into agricultural aviation without having the proper foundation, like you cannot jump into nursing with the proper foundation. The nursing students have thousands of hours of clinical practice in order to take their boards, which correlates to years of study. This is no different than doing your “clinical” practice on the ground. The ability to fly the airplane is one thing, but there’s a plethora of other things that have to be mastered before you can pull the handle, so to speak. Flying the airplane needs to be second nature, because you also have to figure loads, wind, product, obstacles, etc.This doesn’t even take into consideration knowing how to run a business. That’s an entirely different article. Maybe the author of these posts will put together an in-depth feature for the readers of AAU (hint hint).
I commend this individual for talking frankly about the reality of breaking into the business. It’s a tough one, but one of the most rewarding careers anyone can have.
Air Tractor recently delivered its 4,000th airplane to operator Mike Rivenbark from North Carolina. The airplane is a brand new 502XP. Mike upgraded from an AT-402. He was featured in the November 2020 issue of AgAir Update, “Dropping Anchor”. This is a phenomenal achievement, and a testament to the strength of our industry and the aircraft manufacturer. The XP was sold by Lane Aviation in Rosenberg, Texas. Watch for an in depth feature on this delivery in an upcoming issue.
The season is getting started in the Northern Hemisphere. As I always remind everyone, take your time. Carry an extra couple seconds and an extra 100 feet in your turns, it won’t make a difference at the end of the day, but may make a difference in the rest of your life.