Crop Dusting Redux

agcatman

New Member
Hey folks. Sorry I'm so slow in replying, been a busy week for me. I'd like to thank you all for your welcomes and making me feel at home here. I'm gonna post some pics for your perusal.
 

Josh

Well-Known Member
Cool. I honestly look forward to it. I think as others have mentioned I would like to get into dusting, but had thought it was hard to do. I happen to live in an area with a lot of agriculture, but there are a lot of anti-everything people around here as well. Most of the work in the Salinas Valley about 20miles from where I live seems to be done by helicopter.
 

agcatman

New Member
My screenname, Agcatman, refers to a type of aircraft that I used to fly. Grumman manufactured Ag-Cats for years. It was the world's first dedicated ag aircraft, as opposed to aircraft such as Stearman's which were modified for the mission. Ag-Cats are really wonderful aircraft and I loved every minute of flying them (liked it a WHOLE lot better when I put a kerosene burner out front though). I now fly an Ayres Thrush. Anyway, here's a pic of one of my present planes:



This pic was taken in my main hangar a couple of months ago. In this picture it is set up for dry work, ie sowing wheat, spreading dry fertilizer, etc. Note the "lid" that is open on top of the aircraft. That is where the material is loaded. I then open a gate at the bottom of the hopper and the material drops into the propwash and then into the large stainless steel spreader mounted under the airplane. The material is then distributed at the prescribed swath/rate.
 

agcatman

New Member
This is a pic my wife took of me working. I'm spraying a herbicide called Harmony Extra on a field of wheat. The Harmony kills wild garlic so's y'all's Wonder Bread doesn't taste like it was made at Fazoli's.
Harmony is applied a bit higher than most other herbicides, so I'm actually at about 12' AGL and ~150mph (that will increase as the load is lightened).

 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Awesome!

I'd take a break during private pilot ground schools and watch the agcats chug across the fields. One day, this guy darn near puts on an airshow in a turbine ag cat and I swore I was going to witness an inflight separation because he was really working the aircraft.

Ahh, life in the San Joaquin valley...
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
BTW, would you be interested in writing a perspectives article for us? That's be pretty interesting!
 

agcatman

New Member
Ah yes. And one of the fruits of my labor. Sorry, but I had to black out my toll free number. But feel free to call me on the other, assuming of course that ya got something important to say. Don't even THINK about pranking me.


 

agcatman

New Member
Ah yes, the good old days. These, folks, are (were) my Ag-Cats. In a way I had a sweet setup here. The one on the left was set up for spraying and the one on the right was set up for dry materials. So I never had to swap a plane from one to the other as I do now. Just jump out of one and jump in the other.

The one on the right is a 1977 A Model with extended wings and the other one is a 1976 A Model (completely stock). Both are powered by Pratt & Whitney R1340-AN1 radial engines (600 ponies).

A lot of people get all sentimental about radial engines, the sound they make, etc. Well take it from me there is no radial sound as sweet as the one that is owned by someone else. Mag problems, starter problems, oil, Oil, OIL EVERYWHERE! Hehe, how'd YOU like to be doing oil changes every fifty hours when you're flying 12 hours a day? Man, I hated it. Fly my butt off all day and then have to change oil until midnight. And that's 10 GALLONS of oil you've gotta do something with too.

And many of you have probably heard the old saying: If it ain't leaking oil don't fly it. It's empty. Oh yeah, and don't forget the counterbalance prop. That SOB had to be routinely greased. And I SWEAR no matter how hard I ran it up before takeoff she'd hold that grease until I had just rotated and then it would come back to the windscreen in great big glops. Not like I really need to see where I'm going or anything like that. Ah, good times.


 

agcatman

New Member
And another one. This is the method that I used to fill the plane with dry materials. The truck would pull up and position the hopper over the plane's hopper. Then I'd pull the release lever and dump the load in. I'd have to level it as it filled up as the hopper would fill the plane to an exact level (usually as much as it would hold). So I'd be jumping out on the wing and playing loader boy as many as forty-fifty times a day. Take my word for it, it got tiring.

Oh yeah. I don't wear clothes like that anymore and I shouldn't have been doing it then. But I have air conditioning now and back then all I had was 100mph AC which was a bit like sitting under a high-power hair dryer. The center section of the top wing is the main fuel tank and if anything ever happened then I'd not have fared too well with those shorts on.
Ag-Cats are tremendously safe aircraft (well, as far as ag aircraft go anyway). The old man that I bought my two from told me once "Now Stephen, don't get me wrong. You can get killed in an Ag-Cat. But you gotta TRY." And he was right. These planes are the definition of stick and rudder. No needle and no ball. Who needs them when you've got your eyes and your a**. Besides, get uncoordinated and it costs you 10mph right off the bat. Take my word for it, it makes you GOOD.

Every ag pilot, I don't give a good darn if your daddy is Chuck Yeager, should start in an Ag-Cat. I wish I would have. It would have saved me a LOT of embarassment and a nice scar that I have across my forehead. Ag pilots are like bikers. There are two kinds. Those that are going down and those that have been down.


These pics were taking in late 1996.
 

agcatman

New Member
Ah, my first turbine. I know you guys flying the kerosene burners remember yours just as well as you remember your first piec...well, you know what I mean. I used to scare myself on a daily basis in the round motors. I was so conservative flying that engine that it only took an instant to get behind the power curve and then it was all shakes and sweats. But it taught me to think so far ahead of the aircraft that being scared almost became a nonevent. But then...

Power. Oh man. Power. And no oil changes. And no bad mags. I was, as we say around these parts, shi***ng in tall cotton. I loved that plane. I flew it for almost three years and then sold it to a Cajun down in Abbeville, LA whose pilot promptly wrecked it.
But it got rebuilt and I think he's still flying it. Haven't talked to him in a while, I need to give him a call. This pic is posted on a friend's web site. I'll just cut and paste the description that I wrote for him.

"The plane is a Grumman/Schweizer Ag-Cat Super B, 400 gallon hopper, Tall Tail, Goosefeet, Elevator Servos, High Wing Kit and 115 gallon fuel. Airframe is 0 timed. Jim Krepps of Malden Ag-Craft in Malden, Missouri did the airframe work.

The turbine conversion was done by Bill Hatfield of Turbine Conversions Inc. in Nunica, Michigan. The engine is a 750 horse Walter turboprop manufactured in the Czech Republic. The propellor is an Avia/Hamilton Standard also made in the Czech Republic.

The engine and prop came from Darrell Riddell of Riddell Flying Service in West Helena, Arkansas. Darrell pretty much coordinated the effort and the conversion was done at his facility.

The DGPS swathing system is made by the Picodas Group of Ontario, Canada. It is an Ag-Nav 2. The plane is also equipped with a Crophawk Flowmeter and smoker.This is the first fully STC'ed Walter Conversion Ag-Cat in the world. A "one-of-a-kind" type aircraft right now although I'm sure there will be many more."




And here's one of the panel. Note that I ordered an inclinometer (ball) from Wag Aero and installed it myself. I figured the airplane was just too "uptown" not to have one. Hehe, don't know that I ever looked at it though. The computer screen in the center of the panel is a "moving map" DGPS swathing system. It used the Coast Guard differential (this was way before WAAS). The cool thing about it was that it "painted" everything I did on the screen. So if I got a little off the swath, or had to shut off early because of some type of obstruction (dogs, deer, people, cars, etc.) it would "paint" it on the screen and it was a simple matter of going back to fill it in. I paid about 30K for this unit and it was cutting-edge at the time. I have a Satloc "moving map" today and believe me they are just as sweet now as they were then. Put the traditional flaggers out of business and took a LOT of guesswork out of the job.




I was so proud of this airplane that I could have burst, and, to be fair, for good reason. It was a heck of a performer. It had a 400 gallon hopper and my round motor A's were 300 gallon. This plane tripled the amount of work I could do in a day.
 

agcatman

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Awesome!

I'd take a break during private pilot ground schools and watch the agcats chug across the fields. One day, this guy darn near puts on an airshow in a turbine ag cat and I swore I was going to witness an inflight separation because he was really working the aircraft.

Ahh, life in the San Joaquin valley...


[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah, but you ain't seen nuttin' til you seen ME swing a Cat around. Thrush too for that matter.
 

agcatman

New Member
Just so you all don't think it's all wine and roses and Harley V-Rods, just two more pics. I'll let you guys mull these over for a while then I'll tell you the story behind them.





Oh yeah. My pics. MINE. I have no desire to see these posted all over the web. You wanna nab them, you ask me. So please don't copy my pics. You have been warned.
 

Looking4Lower

New Member
I'll take a guess (raising my hand from the back of the classroom).

A mid-air collision. There is what appears to be a round engine in the background that probably doesn't belong to the plane in the foreground....
 

Sprint100

Well-Known Member
Awesome pics. I could tell your an awesome guy because not just anybody would get that beaut of a harley.
 

SteveC

Really?
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
Awesome pics. I could tell your an awesome guy because not just anybody would get that beaut of a harley.

[/ QUOTE ]
People are defined by what they own, after all. [/sarcasm]


<edit: It is a nice looking ride. And you sound like a decent egg. Just had to take a shot at the implications of that last statement.
>
 

agcatman

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
I'll take a guess (raising my hand from the back of the classroom).

A mid-air collision. There is what appears to be a round engine in the background that probably doesn't belong to the plane in the foreground....

[/ QUOTE ]

Ooh, very observant! Hehe, I've pointed that out to people before with me sitting there with them and even then they couldn't really tell! I must say I'm impressed.

With those sharp eyes of yours I'll go ahead and tell you it ain't red Kool-Aid on the windscreen in the other pic either....


But, sadly, your guess is incorrect. Notice how the airframe is sitting nose down? Well, the part that is sitting on the ground is the firewall. That is in fact the firewall forward of this airplane. Here's a better pic:



Once again, my pic. Ask before using in any way, shape or form please.

BTW, these were taken in March, 1996.
 
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