Okay peeps, I got a confession to make...


New Member
...I'm not fourteen going on fifteen (err, not physically anyway). As a matter of fact I'm 39 so from what I've seen by perusing the board that probably makes me one of the older folks here. Sheesh. I want to be 23 again.

My name is Stephen, and I am, <gasp, shudder, choke> a CROP DUSTER. Hehe, yep, I’m one of “them”.

I just happened to chance upon this board last night and I couldn't help but notice that when I did a search of the site using the terms "crop dust" that I came across some posts that were, well, a bit disparaging towards my chosen field of aviation. Nothing overtly malicious, but I get the feeling that some of you might perceive crop dusting as being "beneath" you. Crop dusters peeing on the floor of their aircraft? PEEING ON THE FLOOR OF THEIR AIRCRAFT AND THEN RAISING THE NOSE SO IT RUNS OUT THE BACK? ROFLMAO, that is just too rich. Oh man. Hehe, you have got to be kidding me. Now personally I find that pretty funny. Heck, personally I find that freaking HILARIOUS! I have heard it all now.
But I'm also a bit troubled by the way in which crop dusting is considered something that can easily be done by even the most inexperienced commercial pilots, with the perception being that anyone can easily do it to build time until one achieves the "Holy Grail" of the airline job.

Guys and gals, I don't wanna burst your bubbles, and it's honestly not my intent to be obnoxious. I mean, I enjoy a good laugh and a good joke, but in all seriousness I think those who believe that better take a long, hard look at themselves because they have a HUGE case of overconfidence and that kind of misguided bravado is a darn good way to get themselves, or someone else, killed. When I see an attitude like that it kinda makes me think "wow, I wonder in what other ways this person has deluded themselves about their own abilities." Crop dusting is one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs in aviation. By saying that I'm certainly not demeaning any other branch of aviation. But for goodness sake don't kid yourself into thinking that those who choose this profession, myself included, do so because we have no choice, because somehow we’re not qualified for other aviation jobs. I'm telling you now that assumption is simply incorrect. Speaking for myself, I do what I do because it's what I want to do and because I love what I do. I could fly anything I wanted to: with the proper training and preparation. Okay, I'm off my soap box.

So, a little about myself if I may. I own and operate my business in Southeast Missouri. I have my Comm. SEL & MEL, Instrument Airplane SE & ME, Comm. Rotorcraft/Helicopter, Instrument Helicopter, CFI Rotorcraft/Helicopter and CFII Rotorcraft/Helicopter. I have three years of Part 135 helicopter experience. I can also fly Gyroplanes to Comm. standards; I've just never gotten around to taking my check ride. Yet. I'm gonna do it one of these days though. I also have a little time in gliders and hot-air balloons.

As for flight experience I have right at 10,000TT including ~6,500TT in stuck-wing and ~3,500TT in fling-wing. I presently own a 1997 Ayres Turbo Thrush 510 gallon ag plane powered by a Honeywell (Garrett) TPE-331-10 (a little over 1,000 horses) and a 1969 Grumman Ag-Cat A model powered by a P&W R985 (450 horses). The Cat I had totally rebuilt this year. I still haven't figured out how to fly them both at the same time though. I have about 4,000 hours turbine airplane time and not quite 1,000 hours turbine helicopter time

I started my company nine years ago. One of the nicest things about crop dusting is that I have no one to answer to but my customers. Well, my customers and my wife. Hmm. And the Feds. And the EPA. And the USDA. And the Missouri State Department Of Agriculture. And the Missouri State Department of Natural Resources. And the equivalent governmental entities in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee where I also conduct business. Whew! I guess I'm really only as free as the chains that bind me!

When I finished my helicopter CFI and CFII I immediately went to work as an instructor at the school where I trained. The last year I instructed (about 14 years ago) I grossed $9,998.37 all year. Hehe, I will never forget that figure as long as I live.

But it gets better. I'd imagine that most of you have no idea as to the income potential of crop dusting and I’d be willing to bet that most people assume that there's really no money in it. Heck, there can't be any money in crop dusting.

I mean EVERYBODY knows that the big bucks are gonna be had by flying for one of the major air-o-lines, right? Them major aer-o-liners, why they jess as happy as pig in a slop, I mean, ole backwoods crop dusters who pee-pee on the floor of their air-o-crafs and then raises the nose so that it runs out the back, I mean, come on? A extrie-larged sized crop dusting business makes, what, $25,000 to $35,000 per year? Crop dusters don't wear no white shirts, they don't even get no bars thingamabobs to wear on their shoulders! Hehe, a crop duster is probably gonna make a beeline for the National Enquirer and not even attempt to pick up the Wall Street Journal cause it ain't got no pictures in it! (Or at least not a real picture, just them ugly pencilly looking things!)

Hey, you might be a crop duster if you gotta steal Ma's bra strap for the elastic in it to so that you can use it to bind up that right main landin' leg on the 1932 Aeronky so'n it will bounce like it used to a-fore you hit Junior's hounddog in the pasture that time you got drunk on Pappy's white lightning and then passed out jes rite while ya was landing affer axidentally ya dumped that load of Toxaphene all over Granny's prize hog! Doggone Pa, ya blame fool crop duster, how many times I gotta tell you to lick that molasses of'n that knife before you stick it back in the butter? An little Jebediah came in here a' cryin' agin, he said you done took one the wheels off'n his Radio Flyer wagon so's you could puts it on the hiney wheel on that dad-burn Aerocoupay ya blame fool drunk ole' crop duster, heck, that there Aerocoupay ain't even got none them foot pushers on the flo, and I be dadburned if'n the flo of that 'n don't smelt like pee-pee too, you ole drunke fool what, ya jus been running roun peeing on the flo of all the aer-o-plnaes?

Hehe, them drunk fool crop dusters probably think a crash pad is something that they're supposed to use to wipe up all the mess on the ground after the duck tape they are using to hold their leading edges in place comes loose and they wreck their old beat-up rusted-out Aeronkee that smells worsern a pair o' granpappy's drawers, smells like pee-pee if'n he ain't been a cleanin ons it.


Hehe, oh my, youn's has to excuse me, it just ain't been the same for'n me since I got ole John-boy's homebrew recipe mixed up with'n that there herbie-side that I wert suppose'n to spray if'n the blame fool wind got down a low thirdy-fi mile'n our. An ya drunk ole' cootie, ya gots it mixed up and ya dranks that herbie-side, dincha, dincha you drunk ole' fool crop duster, well, at leas now maybe ya ain't got no mo grass grow'n ins ya belly...Jim-bob, you ain't out there a' pee-peeing in Billy-Bob's aer-o-plane agin is ya boy?




Excuse me.

Ah, much better now.

Well, I'm not going to get into the minutiae of my business dealings, but believe it or not I have actually, and on more than a few occasions, grossed more in ONE DAY of crop dusting than I made in that ENTIRE YEAR of instructing! My yearly gross, with me acting as PIC and one employee working on the ground, is lots and lots and LOTS of six-figures. (Hehe, I bet THAT comes as shock!) And here you folks probably thought us ole back woods dusters was doing good to buy a tin of biscuits, a side of bacon and a plug of chewing tobaccy.

Ah, but that’s not all. Check this out. I get approximately FIVE MONTHS of vacation EVERY YEAR. The weird thing about agricultural plants is that they don't grow in the winter. Who’d a thunk it. So I play. So hey, take it easy on crop dusters. We’re not dumb and we’re DEFINITELY not crazy!

Hehe, I gotta admit that I find it pretty funny when people, particularly other pilots, appear to demean my job. The fact of the matter is that, apart from appalling stereotypes we're labelled with (think Randy Quaid in Independence Day) and the hysteria surrounding crop dusters in the wake of 9/11, most people, other pilots included, have no clue as to what the job entails and while most think they can imagine the risk few have a clue as to the reward. Crop dusters are, as a rule, demonized by radical and for that matter, even moderate environmental groups as crazed cowboys who poison the earth by haphazardly spewing toxic chemicals across the country, wantonly destroying everything in our path. Well folks, it's just not true. I am, just as you all are now or are training to become, a professional pilot with the emphasis on the PROFESSIONAL part. I take a tremendous amount of pride in my work and in my abilities. I know that I provide a vital service, not only to my farmers but also to the people of this nation by providing a critical service to supply the country with food and fiber. And I make a HECK of a lot of money in return. But I work for it.

Anyway, I'll tell you right now that I was very impressed by the camaraderie that I've noticed in my short time of reading through the forum. Doug, you done good and you should be proud of the help and benefit of experience that your site offers.. J I’ve seen the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by the forum’s members. Man, it reminds me so much of when I started in the aviation industry. It is in this light that I decided to post (hehe, although I had to pull a few legs first). As I noted I don't for a minute think that the misconceptions about crop dusting were the result of a malicious intent but rather just general lack of knowledge of the business. And that’s why I’ve shared some information with you all that, as I rule, I would normally keep to myself.

So here I be. If you folks are interested I'd be happy to share with you what I do and the particulars that are involved. Be advised though, when you guys start to understand what I do and how I do it, you might just have a hankering to experience 160 mph 8 feet off the deck all the while dodging trees and power lines (day and occasionally night) for yourselves. And I’d be willing to bet that if you do, airline flying, in comparison, well, it’s probably going to seem, well, a bit tame?.

One thing though: it’s quite probable that you’ll get dirty (hehe, oh my, perish the thought). So leave the white shirt and tie at home. The farmers will make fun of you for that kind of stuff. (Hehe, just fair warning.)

That being said, if you guys have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to spill my guts. I'll also post some pics I think you all will enjoy. And a little later I’ll tell you how to get here if you’d like to visit and experience the rush firsthand. If any of you all are going to SIU my place is less than an hour away.

So, to all of you, I'd like to say it’s very nice to make your acquaintance. And I’d also like to encourage you to fly safe. But have fun too. Hey, that’s what it’s all about.

Stephen A.

0h yeah, just one last thing:

We know we're a pain in the *&#. We plan that kinda thing. It's a crop-dustin' conspiracy.
But fuggedaboudit. We're not getting radios. Deal with it. And please do try to stay out of our way when we get ready to depart.

(Just funning with ya!)


Well-Known Member
Damn that was long.
I knew that other thread had to be a hoax. It was just too overboard, like I said there.

On another note, I love crop dusting. I live in Iowa where the duster around here gets a lot of work. Maybe you have heard of them? Todd's Flying Service? I have a lot of pictures of him diving over my house at 100ft. to hit the field that is adjacent to my back yard. Pretty cool stuff, I say.


New Member
Before I read the rest:

"but I get the feeling that some of you might perceive crop dusting as being "beneath" you."

No way dude, crop dusting takes balls
. Jetcareers isn't one of those elitist snobish places, atleast I hope not

Edit: Long long post! Welcome to JC!


Well-Known Member
PAPPY.... its YOU!!!

MAWWW! I runna an foun mah DADDY!

[/ QUOTE ]
Now THAT is funny!!

Mr. Crop-duster - as another "old guy" (38) - welcome to the fray!

Oh - and - um - TRY to practice a bit of brevity in your posts, my friend.
Brevity is the soul of wit.

BTW - I have a TON of respect for you guys (crop dusters)!!! You have balls the size of coconuts (I speak figuratively, you understand



Mama Bear....
Staff member
HAY! whose calling 38 old? i'm just a meer 3 years from that - you gonna call me an old fart too now???

BTW - welcome to the board Stephen!!

We (err I) don't know much about crop dusting, so that'll be interesting to learn!!!


Freight Dawg
As a matter of fact I'm 39 so from what I've seen by perusing the board that probably makes me one of the older folks here

[/ QUOTE ]

Naw, to me (42) you're just another snot nosed kid!

I lived, went to school and learned to fly in SE Missouri (Cape Girardeau). I had a commercial student when I was a lowly CFI there who wanted to be a crop duster. Hmmm...I can't remember the name but I wonder if it's you?

Anyway, we're all envious that you get to do some fun stick and rudder flying while us airline types get to drone along endlessly at FL350 flying solely by reference to the autopilot.


If specified, this will replace the title that
Welcome to the board - and, btw, ag pilots command my respect. Anybody willing to fly that fast, that low into unknown environments is either really good or completely insane.

But, I think one of the biggest problems pilots have - as a group - is we tend to knock the "other guy's" type of flying. And when it comes down to it every type has it's own inherent challenges, problems, dangers and rewards. As a crop duster you're probably an outstanding stick but when was the last time you flew six IAPs, in one day, in various weather at 160kts carrying 200 passengers? When was the last time a CFI dusted a field or carried more than one "passenger?" When was the last time an airline-type flew eight feet off the deck dodging trees and powerlines or put his life on the line with a primary student? It's all apples and oranges.

That's what makes flying so interesting. The diversity.

Instead of knocking each other we ought to respect the skills each type of flying takes and leave it at that. Comparing one type of flying to another is pointless because each type is different and excercises different skills.

I'm not attacking or knocking you Agcat ... just an observation and your post was a good segway to post it.

Again, welcome to the board!

P.S. I'm from the St. Louis area (Illinios side - Edwardsville, Collinsville) and went to SIUE. Hows the weather? Any snow sticking yet?


Well-Known Member
No there is no snow sticking yet.

Agcatman were are you in Southeast MO. I live in St. Louis and I am down in the Cape area fairly often bringing my sister to and from school at SEMO


Well-Known Member
Crop dusters peeing on the floor of their aircraft? PEEING ON THE FLOOR OF THEIR AIRCRAFT AND THEN RAISING THE NOSE SO IT RUNS OUT THE BACK? ROFLMAO, that is just too rich.

[/ QUOTE ]
HAHAHA I remember that post. Good times.

Agcatman, thank you for putting things in perspective and I must say, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!


Well-Known Member
One of the cool things I've noticed about this site is that nobody puts down anyone's flying. Hell, if they wanted to, pretty much everyone here could be ragging on this guy who can't fly in the clouds, you know? But none of them do.

I'm thinking that crop dusting has to be one hell of a challenging job.


Well-Known Member
I'm thinking that crop dusting has to be one hell of a challenging job.

[/ QUOTE ]

No kidding!

I love watching those guys work!

I travel quite a bit and every now and then I see them swooping over the highways...


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I got my private at a flight school that primarily taught crop dusting. In fact, after ground school, I'd go out and help them flag for a little bit of money.

Not a whole lot of non ag-based aviation in the San Joaquin valley!


New Member
Damn Funny post. I'd love to get some Agcat time. What a hoot that would be, straffing hostile corn, dodging Akk Akk trees. Yeah, it could be way cool.


Welcome; that other post was hallerious

You'll also find a lot of respect for ag pilots in your search for 'crop dust'


New Member
I was really interested in crop dusting but some posts on another board made it sound impossible to get into and seem like there wasn't any money in it. Glad to see a different view. Any chance you can write a perspectives article???


Well-Known Member
I think it would be even harder after 9/11 unless you were well established before that date. Remember all the news reports in that September about the terrorists using crop dusters? I wouldnt think it would be that hard to do...not that you could cover a very large area.


New Member
Cropdusters are cool. I never did any dusting unless you count the chem-goo that we dispense from the flight levels. But then again, I'm not supposed to talk about that.


Mama Bear....
Staff member
Any chance you can write a perspectives article

[/ QUOTE ]

that is a really excellent idea Shooter!