One hundred years after airplanes were first used in applying insecticide to crops, a Mississippi State flight lab seeks to understand how today’s agricultural aviators can safely share the skies with technology those early agriculturalists could not have imagined – unmanned aircraft systems.

Agricultural aviators treat more than 125 million acres of U.S. cropland each year, according to the National Agricultural Aviation Association. Flying as low as 10 feet off the ground and at speeds up to 140 miles per hour, ag aviators share this low altitude space with unmanned aircraft systems, often referred to as UAS or drones, with greater frequency than other manned aircraft.

“With UAS increasingly populating the skies, it’s in everyone’s interest to better understand how these two types of aircraft can safely share airspace,” said Tom Brooks, director of MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. “We’re synthesizing available agricultural aviation data to better understand typical flight patterns and tendencies of our ag fliers. We’re identifying trends and plan to later integrate this data with existing predictive models that will account for this vital aspect of aviation in developing safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system.”

Read More at msstate.edu