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Old 02-10-2009, 09:01 AM
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Mar 2008
Position: FAA 'Flight Check'
Posts: 11,925

Originally Posted by agrinaut View Post
Razorback09, You raise a valid question.

I have flown ag planes since back in the late seventies, and planning on flying them again this year. I am about to turn fifty years old. I have no cancer or any other medical problems that I am aware of. I know, and have known many,many ag pilots down through the years and while yes, there has been a few that have developed cancer, the vast majority have not. I think this would be representitive of the general population of people. Matter of fact, I am doing my ATP training right now with an ag pilot that just turned seventyeight years old. He looks healthy and strong. Other than the normal concerns about cancer that everyone shares, I don't think that ag pilots are more "prone" to getting it.

There were several studies done down through the years where ag pilots would be monitored with weekly blood tests and such for several years at a time. I don't recall these test's finding anything out of whack with the pilots involved. I was included in some of this.

Also just want to add that the products used these days are not even close to the toxicity of products used years ago. The airplanes are so much safer, and the big thing is that todays ag pilot is a professional aviator/businessman/good neighbor. Sure, their are still some "cowboys" out their but they are becoming less and less by the year. This industry is certainly not the same as it was even back when I started. It is, and will make more changes for the better.

Ag aviation is a great way to make a living. You just gotta be very careful. More than likely, it's not cancer that will kill you in this industry. This type of flying is not a game and should be taken very seriously.

Good luck to you.
Agrinaut -

Until I came to the CA Central Valley - I had not seen night time crop dusting. Is this fairly common throughout the industry? also - i finally saw a agri-helo the other day, but it was the first that I have seen in this region in 3 years. Are they becoming more and more (or less and less common)? What are the pros and cons of fixed wing -vs- rotary winged?

as far as chemicals and such - -I would think that the evolution of the chemicals themselves adn the application mechanisms will only have gotten safer and safer through the last decades. maybe there was a higher risk when Ag pilots were practically bathing in the the chemicals of old; but I'm sure that OSHA and such have put stringent limits in place that have made the professional much safer overall.

Recently I was driving on the two line highway from the mainside of our base to the Ops side of the base (I was traveling north). An Ag-plane was making passes on the field to the west. He would come from the left - under the power lines on the west side of the road and then pop up over the right side (east) power lines; do his repositioning maneuver and then come over the right side (east) power lines and dip below the left side (west) power lines to begin his run. Pretty impressive from my viewpoint!

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