Go Back   Airline Pilot Central Forums - Find your next job as a Pilot > >
Part 91 and Low Time Jump pilots, crop dusting, and other Part 91 jobs
 

Welcome to Airline Pilot Forums - Connect and get the inside scoop on Airline Companies

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ. Join our community today and start interacting with existing members. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free.


User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 03-11-2018, 10:26 AM   #1  
Line Holder
Thread Starter
 
Joined APC: Nov 2014
Posts: 70
Default Aerial Application

I think Iíd be interested in getting into this but not sure itís worth the effort. Just want to do some flying that is a bit more than managing an autopilot. Iíve read some of the older threads on here but wondering if there may be any new info out there. For reference Iím a 2600 hour pilot, mostly in King Airs.

How long before this industry is taken over by UAVs?

How long is the season in the south?

Do these ag aviation schools really matter or should I just go bang on hanger doors?

Whatís the pay like?



Thanks!
KA350Driver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2018, 12:48 PM   #2  
Gets Weekends Off
 
dustrpilot's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Jan 2011
Position: AT802
Posts: 189
Default Aerial Application

After 34 years of doing this, with some airline work in the mix, Iíve decided to go a different direction. For a lot of reasons really, but quality of life is the biggest.
The ag industry is extremely hard to get into, but is experiencing a pilot shortage as well. For example, I helped find my replacement, and with a nation wide ad in our trade magazine, I had 4 calls. 2 guys over 60 and two other guys that were probably just fishing.
To answer in order, I donít think UAVís will ever take over. I did tons of fertilizer work and the plane I flew carried a minimum of 4500#s of fertilizer. When I sprayed, I usually carried 750-775 gallons of liquid. Almost every load has drift or human contact concerns. I canít see how drones will ever be able to have the capacity to compete economically or have the intelligence to avoid spraying cars, people, houses or estimate drift and how far to stay away from susceptible crops.
Im in the south. Our season is usually 10 to 11 months.
Without knowing your experience, Iíd say an ag school and banging on hanger doors is going to be required. I owned a business for awhile and start my son in it. I donít think I would do that with someone else. The risks are just to big and it made me a nervous wreck!
I was making between 2-300 flying 650 to 900 hours. I was on the top end. I know guys around here that make less than half that. Itís 7 days a week. Donít get sick and try to call in.
John Burke will probably chime in shortly. Heís more experienced than me and more eloquent with grammar than me, but my advice, with the pilot market as it is, go to airlines unless your a old guy like me, make as much or more money with a retirement plan, and buy a Pitts


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
dustrpilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2018, 11:42 AM   #3  
Disinterested Third Party
 
Joined APC: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,624
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA350Driver View Post
I think Iíd be interested in getting into this but not sure itís worth the effort.
Probably not, then.

What makes you say it's "not worth the effort?"
JohnBurke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2018, 12:21 PM   #4  
Line Holder
Thread Starter
 
Joined APC: Nov 2014
Posts: 70
Default

Dustr, thanks for the info

John,

Because I have a good job right now but itís not a long term gig. Iím just looking for gouge on aerial application because itís something I could see myself enjoying but want to make sure itís something Iím willing to invest time and money into pursuing.
KA350Driver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2018, 04:17 PM   #5  
Disinterested Third Party
 
Joined APC: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,624
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA350Driver View Post
Dustr, thanks for the info

John,

Because I have a good job right now but itís not a long term gig. Iím just looking for gouge on aerial application because itís something I could see myself enjoying but want to make sure itís something Iím willing to invest time and money into pursuing.
You're going to need some very solid stick and rudder skills. This isn't something that you'll learn in a few hours at an ag school. Today most operators will want to see you graduate an ag program somewhere; be careful where you go because new "schools" crop up every year and disappear a couple of years later.

Ag aviators are flying farmers; you're expected to know the crop, the threats to the crop, and the basics of crop cycles, weeds, insects, and aircraft maintenance. You'll be flying from short airstrips, working around powerlines and obstacles constantly, and there may come a point where flight above 500' AGL makes you nervous. At some point in your ag career, there's a high probability that you're going to strike something: powerlines, standpipe, etc.

Seats in the south such as Dustrpilot described that give a ten month season are permanent seats; they're held onto by the same pilots for a long time; often life.

Entry level ag airplanes are few and far between today. There was a time when Cubs with Sorenson belly rigs, and small ag airplanes like the Pawnee were available as a starting point; today nearly everything is turbine, and the Air Tractor 802 makes up the aircraft in the field. It's harder to get someone insured in an 802 if they have no ag experience. That means the good seats, the 10 month rice seats, aren't available to entry level pilots, generally speaking. You'll be looking for something in an Ag Cat, or something along those lines, and most likely be spraying row crops in corn or wheat.

You can go bang on hangar doors, but it's unlikely you'll find anything. I do recommend that you go sit down with operators, as many as you can, and chat. Ag operators don't hire off resumes; they hire by handshake in a hangar. Watch the ads in Trade A Plane, and get a subscription to Ag Air Update.

You'll need licensing to dispense economic poisons in the state where you'll be working.

Don't look at ag flying like a fun summer gig you might like to try. You wouldn't take that approach to an airline career. Ag is very much the same, but unlike the airlines, ag is not an entry level job, it's harder to get into, and success in the industry is tempered by survival not seniority.

How do you feel about flight under powerlines?
JohnBurke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2018, 04:55 PM   #6  
Line Holder
Thread Starter
 
Joined APC: Nov 2014
Posts: 70
Default

Thanks for the reply.

Iíve reached out to an ag school in North Louisiana and hoping to get a call back tomorrow about course length and cost. Apparently theyíve been around a while and have a decent reputation but I donít really know these things.

I admittedly know exactly zero about farming, other than you put seeds in the ground and stuff grows in pretty lines. Iíll be approaching 3000 hours by summertime, mostly in the King Air. I currently fly for an ISR military contractor overseas and know that the airline lifestyle holds zero appeal to me.

As far as going under power lines, I guess if thatís safer than trying to climb over them all the time then thatís what Iíd do.
KA350Driver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2018, 09:36 PM   #7  
Disinterested Third Party
 
Joined APC: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,624
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KA350Driver View Post
Thanks for the reply.

Iíve reached out to an ag school in North Louisiana and hoping to get a call back tomorrow about course length and cost. Apparently theyíve been around a while and have a decent reputation but I donít really know these things.

I admittedly know exactly zero about farming, other than you put seeds in the ground and stuff grows in pretty lines. Iíll be approaching 3000 hours by summertime, mostly in the King Air. I currently fly for an ISR military contractor overseas and know that the airline lifestyle holds zero appeal to me.

As far as going under power lines, I guess if thatís safer than trying to climb over them all the time then thatís what Iíd do.
Safer is one reason, the other is to get proper coverage on crop that grows close to or under the lines. It's not a regular practice, but it is done.

Ag flying has different faces. Seeding and dry fertilizer work involves dropping from a spreader; a lot of trips, a lot of takeoffs and landings, due to the amount of material dispensed. Spray work is high volume at many gallons per acre to ultra low volume at up to a gallon per acre, roughly speaking, and anywhere on the spectrum in between. Herbicide work carries the biggest risk, because of the potential damage to susceptible crops (drift damage). Pesticides are more toxic. Handling either one is common sense.

A part of ag aviation, but a separate category is aerial firefighting. Almost never on level ground, it involves large air tankers (multi engine, mostly the BAE-146 or variants, today, up to the DC-10 and B747. The bulk of the fleet nationwide, held in private companies under contract, is made up of Air Tractor 802's. There is zero chance of getting into that right now, for you, but a direction that you might think about. It's not about farming, but firefighting, and it's all mountain flying, often low visibility, moderate to severe or greater turbulence, rough country.

Before you commit to a school or give them money, talk to former students and see who got employed and what they think. Talk to as many ag operators as you can; see what their requirements will be if they bring a new pilot on, and if they'll need to see an ag school, and if so, which one.

Ag work has the perpetual problem of being employed every few months. If you're doing ISR work then you're used to rotating schedules, but you know you'll get paid again and when. Not so with ag. There's no salary, and you don't know when you'll fly, or how much. When you're not flying, that is when the season is over or before it starts, it's not easy to find work. Few people want to hire part year, and fewer of those during the winter.

The biggest hurdle for you will be lack of conventional gear experience and utility flying. There is always a steady flow of pilots who want to do ag, but who aren't qualified or committed, and most operators don't take enquiries too seriously for that reason. I can't stress highly enough that it's not a hobby. It's a living, a profession, and failure to take it very seriously will result in grief. There are a lot of pilots who have done ag for a great many years, successfully, but the statistics and the reputation exist largely because of the inexperienced ones that buy it early on, and drag the longevity numbers down. You don't want to be one of those who ends his career early on the bottom half. Take it seriously. Have fun, make some money, but take it seriously.
JohnBurke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2018, 07:26 AM   #8  
Line Holder
Thread Starter
 
Joined APC: Nov 2014
Posts: 70
Default

Thanks for the replies John and Dustr. I've done a little digging and I'm not sure this type of job would work out for me. At least not in the short term. I would more than likely have to move out of the city and I don't think I can get the wife on board with that. I'll keep your advice in the back of my head in case things change.

Cheers
KA350Driver is offline   Reply With Quote
 
 
 

 
Reply
 



Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Related Topics
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Update UPS Application? E2CMaster UPS 25 08-30-2017 02:55 PM
Application FLYMIA JetBlue 3 08-02-2017 06:45 PM
Application Question countruben1 American 14 05-31-2017 06:55 PM
Aerial Survey Pilot - Huntsville AL natlitter Part 91 and Low Time 3 04-08-2016 08:50 PM
Family Airline laserman2431 Major 119 10-18-2012 07:26 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:34 AM.


vBulletin® v3.9.3.5, Copyright ©2000-2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.3.0 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright ©2000 - 2017 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands