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Old 06-03-2007, 03:31 PM   #1  
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Default Crop Dusting Question

Got a buddy--27 years old, no current aviation experience, in north Mississippi, who wants to pursue an eventual career as a crop duster. I did the military/FDX route and have no clue how to break into that type of flying. Anybody got any info that I might be able to feed him to get him started. Smart guy, good Situational Awareness, loves agriculture.

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Old 06-03-2007, 04:26 PM   #2  
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I don't know what it's like in north Mississippi, but in our farm in Kansas, our tenant farmer does not crop dust. I have often wondered why. However, if I have any questions (since I am not a farmer), I always ask the manager of the town's grain elevator. This guy is usually well informed about all things agricultural.
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:56 PM   #3  
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I just read a great article about crop-dusters around the United States. Of course I forget what magazine, but anyways, I digress. The suggested method of "getting in" is you gotta work the grunt jobs within an operation initially, to get a better understanding of what goes on anyways. There are "Crop-Dusting" schools down south somewhere, but maybe only 20.

So I guess tell your buddy to get his private pilot license, preferably in a tail-wheel aircraft, then build the time to get up to the commercial. Hang-around some dusting operation and see what happens. Weird how I just was reading about this a week ago, but that's pretty much what those guys said. There is a huge demand for people crazy enough to do that kind of flying BTW. I'd do it if I were local to the southern areas where it's popular.
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:17 PM   #4  
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I was down at Americus, GA last month and they had a bunch of cropdusters sitting around. I don't know if there's a lot of demand around here in Tennessee. Maybe out in the western part of the state. Surely Mississippi would have a need.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:50 AM   #5  
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First off you need a commercial with some tail-dragger time.

The majority of spraying operations are one-man/one-airplane shows...usually farm boys who got the flying bug, so they already understand the farming aspect.

Without an agriculture background, you would probably need to get on with a larger operation as a support person to learn the ropes. There is also at least one college program somewhere (in the midwest?) that provides flight training, ag education, and sprayer-specific training. I think it's a 4-year program though.

You might also be able to find a one-man operator that would take you on as an apprentice, but it might be hard to get stick time due to insurance unless you have a lot of hours.
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Old 06-04-2007, 07:52 AM   #6  
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I think this months AOPA had a good article. I would suggest trying to look some operators up in the near by area and calling them, use your state governments webpage that's how I found them (just did some research in Michigan).
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Old 06-06-2007, 08:04 PM   #7  
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Hey hey. Your friend is in the same boat as me. I am also 27, no flying experience, wanting to get into dusting. I have always wanted to do that since I was a kid, watching them fly beside and over my house.

So about a month ago, I decided to change careers (from a school bus driver to an ag pilot). I found an outfit about 10 miles from where I live, and another about 20 miles.

The first one I went to, the gentlemen was very very helpful. He said he would mentor me, basically. This is how he said it goes.

At 27 years old, you are at a good age to start for two reasons. First of all, you are pretty much over that young "I-am-indestructible" phase and less likely to do stupid things (for the most part). Second, alot of dusters right now are aging and close to retirement, and there will soon be alot of openings, as most pilots want to fly the big planes (BSJS?). He said that it will take at least 3 years to get into, including getting your licenses. You will need to go to your local outfit and try and get on doing anything they want you to. Working the ramp (mixing and loading chemicals, refilling and washing planes, etc.), doing errands, whatever. AT the very least, make it a habit to just hang out at the place for 2 or 3 days a week. He also said it would be the best idea to join AOPA, NAAA, your state AAA and Compaaass Rose, and attend the conventions. These conventions are where you will start your network. Ag pilots are a tightly knit community, and if you cross one person, you will wipe out most of your network.

He said to train in a regular plane, if possible . . . not a tail wheel. He advised this just in case you ever need it, or decide to drop ag piloting. When you are done with PPL, get a restricted (limited?) commercial license. People on here have argued against this advice, and I agree with them. Go ahead and get the instrument and commercial to help build time, better your skills as a pilot, and . . . you never know when you are going to need it. I personally am going to go for CFI as well, just in case. He said after you get your licensing done, the find a school that does tail wheel, or even ask someone at the establishment or at a convention, if they can sign you off (8-15 hours training, no check ride). The gentlemen I spoke to told me he would give me my endorsement. An Ag license is also needed, but should be given to you (with training)if you work at the facility, in any position.

He also told me, if I can afford it to try something like AgFlight to get your training, but they run between $45k-$60K. There are only 4 schools in the nation that offer ag pilot specific training.

Carolina Thunder

There is also one in Louisiana and one in Tennessee. You will make the most money in TX, LA, MS, GA, and TN.

He said it is a long process, and a grueling one, and you have to be in it for the long haul. It is hard to get into, but once you are in, you have very good job security. Pay where I am at in TX is $50k-100k a year (more or less $100 a field).

I hope that helps your friend out a bit. I will relay more information as I get it.

Edit: Also a good read

Last edited by xpigx; 06-06-2007 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:52 AM   #8  
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Read the other thread on this site. Guys are claiming that they make $175,000 a year crop dusting.
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:09 PM   #9  
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I too am 27 and I realize this post is 2 years old, so your now 29 or so. Either way I'm trying to get as much info on crop dusting as possible. I also live in Texas and curious if you know where would be a good place to start. I'm near Waxahachie.
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:36 PM   #10  
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Here's another thread on this:
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