A question about ag flying

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Nicholas, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Nicholas

    Nicholas Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello everyone. My name is Nick. I'm a farmer in Southwest Georgia. Given the events which have taken place over the last few days, the hurricane hit crops badly making a tough situation even worse, I'm considering an employment change. I enjoy farming and agriculture in general. I'm a student pilot with about 18 hours. I'm thinking about pivoting from farming to being an ag pilot. I know the training is rigorous but what kind of shot does someone have at getting a job in this industry? Any opinions or advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Do you know an ag pilot that you can sit down with and ask all these questions.??


    And welcome.!!!
     
  3. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Unless you are doing it just on your own farm, you will need a commercial pilot certificate. So that will be your first order of business after getting your private. After you get your commercial certificate, there are some schools that teach ag flying. Besides the flying part, you need to learn about the different chemicals used. Google ag pilot schools and you should find a list of schools. I believe there is at least one in GA and there is also one in FL if I recall correctly. Good luck.
     
  4. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Suggest going to Americus GA. Lot's of Ag pilots based there and one of the big ag aircraft dealers is there. Suspect they can give you really good answers to your questions
     
  5. Nicholas

    Nicholas Filing Flight Plan

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    Yes sir I do my operator that flys my crops now I haven't spoken to him because I didn't know how to bring it up we talk planes every so often but that's the extent I had planned on speaking with him next week. As small as the ag flying community is I'm sure I'll have to make major changes to become an ag aviator and as far as the commercial ticket and addition ag training is quite expensive. I could swing it but didn't want to burn all that capital to find out all the seats are taken so to speak. So I was curious of the outlook of work and if any experience running my own operation as far as knowledge of chemicals, mixing rates, crop types And spray systems would mean anything. I do appreciate the quick responses guys I'll continue to do some digging i do love flying and will continue on regardless if just for pleasure.
     
  6. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

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  7. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The first couple of seasons are difficult financially. The hardest seats to get are the first one as a rookie and the first turbine seat. In today’s market piston seats are not as common as years ago. It is not uncommon for guys to start in a turbine. Once you are established with a good record (no drift claims, quality work and not hard on the equipment) there is no shortage of work. Pay is directly proportional to how much you work. The range is pretty big 80-300 a year. I’m going to send you a PM.
     
  8. Walboy

    Walboy Line Up and Wait

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    You pretty much have to know someone in the business who will be your mentor. As a farmer, you likely know the damage that can be caused by herbicides drifting. Until you can get insurance for that, you going to be stuck applying certain insecticides building time to be insurable. To be a full service ag pilot, you need to be able to do it all, at a moment's notice. You're also going to need to be insurable in a tail wheel and turbine.

    Your best bet is to have an honest sit down with your local ag applicator.

    Try to get your private pilot certificate in a tailwheel if you can.
     
  9. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    One of the major ag schools can get you up to speed. However, the hard part is getting on with a company with low ag time.

    If you’re willing to move come to Arkansas. We have the most ag operators in the country. You’ll be able to find a starter company pretty easy. I know a lot of owners who are always looking for guys.
     
  10. ARFlyer

    ARFlyer En-Route

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    Haven’t heard anything negative about them. A lot of the guys around here either have Ag Flight or Flying Tigers K&S endorsements.
     
  11. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The instruction I was told was to go to the store and purchase a sack of marbles. Now go out and find a nice field to practice on. Come in low at the edge of the field and drop one marble out of the plane. Fly down the row and when you get to the other end drop another marble trying to directly hit the end of the row. Now do a tight turn and come back and drop a marble just to the right of the previous one. Fly down the row and drop another one precisely at the end. Continue to do this with successive rows. When you've lost all your marbles, you're ready to be a crop duster.
     
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  12. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wanting to get away from farming after the recent weather events is understandable. Not to state the obvious but going to ag flying isn't really getting away from farming. Still the same industry. Paycheck will still depend on the weather. But I'm sure you knew all that.

    Most of what you need to know has already been covered. Ag flying is similar to other forms of professional flying in that the cost in dollars and time to get qualified for entry level employment is huge. It generally always seems like there are far more applicants than available jobs. Lots of those applicants will be willing to do those jobs cheaper than you, some will probably do it for free if you let them. There is less work available and fewer companies doing it than there used to be and that's not likely to change. All that being said, making a living flying ag isn't impossible. But it ain't easy either.

    If you're just working on your private now, best advice is to search high and low for someone that can do your private training in a tailwheel aircraft. If the choice is drive 10 minutes to the local field to do your private in 172 or drive 4 hours to do your private in a tailwheel airplane, get yourself some audio books and gas up the truck cause you're going to be doing some driving. Or buy a tailwheel plane to do your training in. Having a couple hundred hours of tailwheel is going to give you an advantage over a big chunk of those you will be competing with for that first job.
     
  13. overtorqued

    overtorqued Filing Flight Plan

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    I got into ag a few years ago and fly fixed wing and rotor. There are a lot of myths out there and you will need to do your homework before committing to it. Check with Eagle Vista in Florida, they have free videos on youtube that will give you an idea of what it takes.

    You will hear from people that you will have to work the ground for a couple seasons, fly a piston for a couple seasons, spray only fungicide/insecticide for a couple seasons, etc. In my experience, that is not the case. It more depends on the operator and your attitude/personality. Operators with good track records and good relationships with their insurance brokers are getting guys straight out off flight schools into turbines. Find an operator that wants to mentor you in, you will be better for it.

    If you are serious about it, attend the National Agriculture Aviation Association convention in Reno NV this December. They have sessions designed for guys just like yourself where operators will be answering questions and making connections. The top Ag schools will be there answering questions as well.

    This business is about networking and making connections, go meet some pilots and operators in your area. I will fly for 4 operators this year and every one of them was a word of mouth connection, not answering an ad or them seeing my resume.

    Good luck
     
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  14. Noah Werka

    Noah Werka Pre-takeoff checklist

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  15. mtnflyr

    mtnflyr Pre-Flight

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    regarding the National Agriculture Aviation Association convention in reno, why is it in reno?? as far as i know theres no crop dusting in the state. im assuming its because the close proximity to the Sacramento valley. but then why not have it in sacramento?