NARDO Ag operations at municipal airport

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Ken Thompson, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    Busy? The AFD says KELA is "attended Mon-Sat irregularly". Here's another thing to watch for at KELA: Skydive Houston is listed as a service there in ForeFlight. Those guys under parachute don't have radios either. The sectional also shows glider ops just east of KELA. They often don't have radios, and they won't go around if they are on final and you pull onto the runway.
     
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  2. Axtel4

    Axtel4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What do you mean by "Podunk Kansas"?
     
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  3. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's where I did my first solo XC.
     
  4. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When we lived in Iowa, my experience with crop dusters was very similar to the OPs. The guys flying them were arrogant in the extreme and simply could not be bothered with flying standard patterns or using a radio, ever. Every pilot on the field (and this was back when that meant something) eventually complained so much that they went elsewhere.

    No one shed a tear over their departure.

    Nowadays? I can't imagine too many conflicts happening with so little GA activity, especially during the week.

    On the other hand -- and this illustrates why you must ALWAYS look for traffic -- we just had a major accident on our field between a truck pulling a trailer and a landing Baron. The truck driver pulled out RIGHT in front of the landing traffic, causing quite a conflagration that (amazingly) the pilot walked away from before the plane was consumed by fire.

    With so little GA activity, you could walk blindfolded across that runway a thousand times, safely. We go entire days here without seeing a plane land or depart. And yet, the ONE time this driver didn't look for traffic, blam -- there it was. A billion to one chance...but it happened.
     
  5. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I wouldn't call it arrogant

    Personally I don't see why they wouldn't use their radio though, many of the newer turbine AG ships have quite a bit of tech in them, and most all have radios.

    But the pattern, that's not going to happen, not for most any working plane, especially ones burning a great deal of fuel and needing every second of time to get all their acreage covered, it's going to be the most direct entry and they ain't going to climb up just to go back down, that's not realistic.
     
  6. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    The reason they do not bother using the radio, is they think everyone should stay out of their way, and they own the airfield. That is a pretty good definition of arrogance.

    Tim
     
  7. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Have they told you they own the airfield and think you should get out of their way?

    Personally when I'm flying my personal plane I will give priority to time sensitive working folks, if I'm just flying for fun and they are under a deadline, just seems the nice thing to do. But that's just me
     
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  8. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it is east of Susank or maybe its south of Claflin. Dunno.
     
  9. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    Yes, they have cut me off, back taxied on the runway to race past me (I was on the taxi way only doing about 25 so I would stay out of his way). The lack of any communication, barrel in and land with a tailwind....
    I have also talked to a few ag pilots, and yes. Everyone of them is arrogant about his/her flying skills; and that they can run circles around any weekend flyer who gets in their way.
    Personally, I think historically the bravado was almost required because the job was so risky. As for now? No idea, but the arrogance has stayed with the industry.

    I have no qualms about giving them a priority 99 times out of a 100; if they bothered to ask.

    Tim
     
  10. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Ok so I read the first couple of replys to this thread and decided to weigh in. If I'm repeating something already posted, my apologies. I am a bit irate and couldn't read everything before posting.


    First off Ag pilots are normally paid a percentage of the gross revenue generated by their flying. We do not like wasting time anywhere. We only make money when we are in the field with the spray handle open.

    Part 137 regulates what we do and is only in effect while we are actively spraying. The remainder of the flight is governed by part 91.

    The behavior you described in the traffic pattern is dangerous, unacceptable and contrary to regulations. How you handle that is up to you.

    My ride has a gps comm, intercom and mode c transponder. I have flown rigs in the past with nothing and wasn't a fan but made it work. I don't always fly the published pattern but you can bet your arse I'm talking on the radio and my head is on a swivel.

    At private duster only strips we have our own way of getting stuff done. I recommend you stay away. Sometimes guys are used to that environment and then hit the road to fly somewhere and forget they are at a municipal airport and make an arse of themselves. Might be worth a call or visit to the offending operator before involving regulators.
     
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  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Most could.

    That said, the lack of radio usage is not cool on their part.
     
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  12. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    The reason they don't talk to you on your radio is that they're busy talking to loaders and other pilots on a company frequency. You're in their way. they'll avoid you but don't expect them to lay down and submit to you. They are pro pilots. You're the nuisance.
     
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  13. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    If I am over the field they are spraying, or near their private airfield, yes I am the nuisance. When they are at a public facility, the shoe is on the other foot and they are the nuisance.

    Tim
     
  14. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    You must work for a living in a gilded cage. No matter, No matter to me. Bitch on.
     
  15. jbDC9

    jbDC9 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yup.

    Well huh. Are you a cropduster or "aerial applicator"? Why the arrogance and ego outta you?? How is it that at a public use airfield the "non-duster" is the nuisance? Just because the dusters are working, yakking on other radios, that gives them free reign to be arseholes? Please, get a clue.
     
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  16. brian]

    brian] Cleared for Takeoff

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    Shish- didn't realize our normal was so abnormal.

    Many local fields around here in Arkansas have crop duster operations. Amazing to watch and knowing a few of the pilots, they are quite good.

    But don't expect to hear them on the radio- ever. And they might as easily land on a taxi way as opposed to a runway. I'm guessing it is to get over to the truck for more chemicals or whatever they are spraying. I'm guessing that turbine sucks a lot of gas so most takeoffs and landings are straight out and straight in. They mostly stay away from us weekenders.

    But they are small potatoes compared to all the light sport, home builds and RV swarms. Some use the radio, others, well, you kinda wish they didn't because all the noise on their radio just confuses things.

    That's the reason for looking out the windscreen.
     
  17. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Another thread on "someone is flying differently than the way I was taught, and I am very upset," with a predictable ending.

    The only thing missing is a discussion by the OP on whether or not to report the offender to FSDO.

    Although unnerving, ag pilots are way more maneuverable (and usually talented) than the typical weekend warrior, and will work under, over, and around us slowpokes to get their jobs done. The likelihood that the OP was in any real danger is pretty low.
     
  18. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    There is absolutely no reason to get the FSDO involved. There was nothing against the regs. And trying to regulate stupidity and arrogance is a waste of time, and often futile.
    Those ag planes, when fully loaded are not as maneuverable as you think, further have you considered what happens when the weekend warrior yanks the yoke away because the ag plane appears to come to close?
    Weekend warriors are unpredictable because they do not have experience the ag pilots do. There are really four basic negative variations that will eventually happen in such a situation:
    1. Weekend pilot does nothing, does not panic, and goes online afterwards and bitches/moans about ag pilots.
    2. Weekend pilot does the unpredictable and the ag pilot does not leave sufficient room and you have an accident.
    3. Weekend pilot stalls/crashes/goes into the grass trying to avoid the ag pilot
    4. The ag pilot finally makes one bet to many and has an accident

    Personally I think the first and third are the most likely negative outcomes. In fact, I have seen the third (and we are doing the first now), the weekend pilot trying to avoid an ag plane veered off into the grass. No real harm except the blistered paint from the former navy sailor (very colorful language, great guy though).

    Tim
     
  19. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    One more thing to consider, when I talked to one ag operation in TN, they came up with a great solution.
    The ag pilot did not contact the field, the truck operator did. When the ag pilot was coming back in, the truck driver used a hand held and announced it. No additional workload for the pilot.

    Tim
     
  20. DFH65

    DFH65 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The guys around here generally use the radio and I have never found them to be anything but courteous of GA traffic. Can't say I have ever seen one fly a standard pattern or even care much which direction they landed in assuming the wind wasn't a huge factor. Didn't know there was an altitude restriction on final?
     
  21. jnmeade

    jnmeade Cleared for Takeoff

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    Aviation seems to have many situations where pilots are uncomfortable with others who don't operate as the pilot expects or wants them to. The very untowered airport that Jay Honeck points out has been a source of discomfort between ag planes that operate there for a couple of weeks a year is also a place that I, as well as Jay, can testify has recurring grumbles between the student pilot, the recently certificated pilot, the university medipad, cross-country fliers and the charter planes. The student and new pilot are mentally locked into precise patterns and a rigid and limited number of processes as they practice. The charters, some of them Medevac (Lifeguard) typically pop out of a 1200 foot ceiling on IFR and go straight into preferred runway 25 off approach. The student/new guy may be flying into 25 for crosswind training. Dick in his NORDO cub is following the wind and using 30. Dick doesn't care - he doesn't know about the Citation and knows he can land and be airborne in his Cub well before the intersection with 25. He knows there's an instructor in the C172 because he recognizes the airplane. The student hates even slight right crosswinds and is relying on the instructor to keep an eye on Dick. The student is one of those who can't turn and talk at the same time, so he extends downwind unnecessarily as he calls base. The jet has been talking to Cedar Rapids Approach and just switched to advisory frequency and doesn't know about Dick but probably picks up on the student with the huge patterns. The jet may be on the horn with the FBO to see if the ambulance is there. A go-around on the jet probably costs another 2 tenths at maybe $80 a tenth and the youngish captain is well aware of the numbers. I've been right seat in the jet when the student pilot came on the air and complained because we wanted to go straight in and make her extend her already humongous pattern. Dick? He's happy. The cross-country pilot in this case is OK but when using 12 and 7 often does not know about right traffic.
    People have a difficult time putting themselves in anyone else's place if they haven't experienced the other culture. They have a hard time changing what they are used to or like to do. We're all the same to some extent. Blessed are the accomodators, for they defuse potentially volatile situations and preserve the peace.
    I know several ag pilots very, very well and they usually have great situational awareness and indeed are comfortable operating with timing and separation that less experienced pilots may find disconcerting.
     
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  22. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Someone told me of the training drill to become a crop duster. What you need to do is get a sack of about 100 marbles. Now head down over a practice field about ten feet agl and try dropping a marble at the beginning of the field. When you get to the far side, drop another at the end of field. Make a tight turn and come back and try to drop another marble next to the previous one, then fly down to the opposite end and drop one next to your first. Keep doing this, over and over. When you've lost all your marbles, you're ready to be a crop duster.
     
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  23. Ken Thompson

    Ken Thompson Pre-Flight

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    I don't see how you can possibly infer that ANYONE was taking off downwind. Shall I draw you a picture?

    Pretty strong winds out of the South so active runway is 17. #1 Sprayer had been doing touch and goes on 17. In order for me to get to 17 I have to taxi, on the runway, all the way from the South end of the runway to the north end. I was about halfway up the runway, taxiing toward the north, when the sprayer came around, low, from behind the trees, and lined up to land on 17. Once he saw me on the runway, he executed a go around. I continued to the north end, did my run up on the side pad and, after another sprayer landed, I took off, INTO THE WIND, on RWY 17.

    I hope that gives you a more clear picture now.
     
  24. Ken Thompson

    Ken Thompson Pre-Flight

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    Tarheel, thank you for offering an insider's voice of reason.
     
  25. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    In the whole list, I do not see anything which is against the regs, or violates the AIM guidelines. What am I missing? It is just a busy airport.

    Tim
     
  26. Ken Thompson

    Ken Thompson Pre-Flight

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    Well, this could go on forever... The title of this forum is "Lessons Learned." Similar to the "Flying" magazine column "I Learned Flying From That."
    I learned a lesson. I honestly feel that I was alert and aware of my surroundings, especially after realizing that the the Ag plane was not making calls. I visually checked the approach to RWY 17 several times before spotting the second plane coming in very low. Had I not been extra cautious, and done one last scan, I would never have seen him. I've never flown into a mixed use airport where other planes don't fly fairly standard patterns. That's another lesson I learned and will take to heart.

    I have no intention of filing any report with the FSDO or anyone else. I might suggest to the airport manager that a 'caution' remark be added to the ASOS, similar to "birds and deer may be on, or near the runway." That's a very simple thing that would make transient pilots aware.

    I appreciate the positive comments that offered insight, even from those who didn't agree with me. That's how we learn. That's the premise of this board.

    Be safe out there.

    Blessings!
     
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  27. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Glad to hear that this experience opened your eyes to mixed use airports, and those generating a livelihood from aviation. I think it's actually very good to have our airports used for revenue sources other than $200 hamburgers. I've learned to understand and have much more tolerance for these uses.

    Your language was probably a bit inflammatory, and caused much of the consternation here. Really, we all can get along. It beats dying, closed airports!!

     
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  28. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Now kids, lets throw in the fire fighting aircraft operating from a uncontrolled airport.....
     
  29. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Jumpers, on the other hand, though.... :eek:
     
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  30. WannFly

    WannFly Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    my home drone has Ag and SkyDivers.. when they are operating I get the hell out go to class D.
     
  31. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think the term should be changed to NARDO. As in, that guys got giant nards if he's gonna zip around here without talking. Also, not spending ~$200 for a handheld in 2017? Maybe NARDO can paint his cell phone number on the plane because he's probably using it to text his customers and boyfriends. (not mutually exclusive groups)

    The whole - "No reg requires it" argument is bravo sierra.

    And I'll bet NARDO has an frickin' tablet and ram mount so he get his 'spray' where he wants it.
     
  32. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Try reading the latest accident reports from the ntsb on ag aircraft. Lots of them. Many due to shoddy or Non existent maintenance ,poor or inadequate training, fatigue, misjudgment of height. Why bother with a radio!? Probably the least of their concerns.
     
  33. ElPaso Pilot

    ElPaso Pilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yup. Just like the weekend warriors, but without the added bonus of rusty skillsets.

    Let's keep bashing aviators who don't fly like us. Go POA!
     
  34. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Last time we had this discussion it resulted in me making disparaging comments about Jay's Cherokee.
     
  35. bluerooster

    bluerooster Cleared for Takeoff

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    Given that the OP was back taxi from the far end of the runway so he could depart into the 16g20 wind, I would say the ag pilot could pretty well see him, and did, and avoided conflict.
    Given that the wind was 16G20 (as stated by the OP) I would hazard to guess aggie was not collecting any revenue for his short flight, but was on the rinse phase, taking a load of water and running it through the nozzels. I used to do that regularly, and make a pass over the runway, pulling the dump lever on pull-up. then land. Given that the runway was occupied, aggie decided to go elsewhere for a minute, to allow the aircraft on the ground to do what it was going to do.
    The only radio we had was a business band, our navigation was a magnetic compass, and section lines. We kept up with our passes with a flagger on the wing. And this was not too long ago.
    When returning to the airport, we may, or may not fly a rectangular pattern, depends on where we're returning from. And very seldom were over about 200' agl. (nowadays that may have changed some, due to all the big fans out there)
     
  36. Norman

    Norman En-Route

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    @Ken,

    Given my one and only experience with dusters operating on a field with no taxiway-only option was back-taxi on the runway- was positive in that there was no conflict between operations. There were three dusters land, tank-up and depart while we fueled, caught a snack. We announced our intentions both landing and departing. Given that there was no conflict I would guess the dusters were monitoring the CTAF and watching for traffic. While I can only speak of that single experience as being positive I can't speak for others. Perhaps you hit that field at just the wrong time. Shiite happens.
     
  37. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Damn, Ron, I had forgotten all about that. Now I have to hate you again!
     
  38. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    Please read my earlier response again, the parts that you wrote that I quoted. The part that caused me to question that someone was taking off or landing downwind is copied again below...

    What was quoted is subject to a couple of interpretations...you were at the end of a runway and lined-up to depart and he was landing the other way is one interpretation. You gave more detail in your response and clarified what happened.
    You were "back-taxiing" on the runway to depart, he came to land, saw you on the runway, and did a go-around, as anyone would who saw the runway wasn't clear for landing.

    While these guys may do a better job of communicating, this highlights that we also need to watch what is around us. The guys dropping jumpers on at some airports sometimes don't call "jumpers away" and I heard one get scolded by ATC for that. As I noted there seems to be a sky-dive school there, so keep an eye open for them as well.
     
  39. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    The fuel is probably cheap for a reason - the city or the county is subsidizing it in order to support the ag operators, who help their farmers make money. That is the stated reason the fuel is cheap as it is at both of the Chambers County airports on the other side of Houston from Eagle Lake..

    That being said.. they are operating legally. And they have a job to do. See and avoid works both ways. Sounds like it worked.
     
  40. tspear

    tspear Line Up and Wait

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    I doubt it is subsidized. After the local budgets got hit in 2008/2009 airports have been largely on their own. Some airports, actually try and have the cheap fuel in the area to generate volume. There is one east of Dallas like that (I forget the name), my old home airport in TN is like that, same with one of the airports I based at in MD. (I have a tendancy to follow cheap fuel).

    Tim