Thoughts on Aerial Application

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KissPlusOne
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Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by KissPlusOne » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:55 am

I'm looking at getting into crop dusting. I've got a few hundred hours in taildraggers, and about 900tt. I know the general process: train, get hired, load, fly.

I was hoping someone with recent experience (within the last 2 or 3 years) applicating aerially could shed some light on the reality of the situation.

Will I need to load for a season before I get into flying? I have years of experience being the lowest on the totem pole at other jobs in the industry, just not crop dusting. I understand that if I need to load for a season I will, but I just know deep down in my heart that I'll enjoy the flying more than the loading...

How much would I realistically earn in my first season as a full time pilot? I know most people either pay by the acre or by 20% of the plane's revenue. I've kind've already prepared myself for some low income...

Where would be a good place to apply to? Where should I avoid as a first timer? Are there specific places that won't hire new guys?

Thanks in advance for the responses!

If it makes it easier, you can pm me.
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matt foley
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by matt foley » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:16 pm

Fran and the gang will be happy to answer all your questions with actual facts and truths instead of anonymous speculation which you may receive here. PS, not crop dusters, AG Pilots.

http://www.batairspray.com

MF
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TailwheelPilot
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by TailwheelPilot » Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:56 am

The CAAA website also shows miccaraerial.com as the other place in Canada for ag training ($14,000 vs $18,000). When I was starting out I considering going to Battlefords Air Spray but did not have the cash on hand to pay for the course and ended up with a job offer elsewhere. Other than the types used, is there much/any difference between the two courses? How do these compare with the American options listed on the CAAA's website?

A quick look in the classified section and I see pretty well all of the job ads want 2500 hours ag turbine experience including 1000 hours Air Tractor or 4 years, minimum 1000 hours turbine or 750 hours Air Tractor. I sure hope there are a lot of hidden Pawnee and Cessna 188 jobs around to help gain experience.
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Wasp_Jr
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by Wasp_Jr » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:44 pm

The reason a lot of times for the high requirements on the CAAA website are because operators are struggling to find insurable pilots on the larger turbine machines so they need to hire TFW's to fill seats for the summer. There are a large percentage of highly experienced Australian pilots who fly seasonally in Canada every year. As for getting right into a seat your first season it can really vary there is still operators who have smaller equipment which a new ag pilot would be insurable on, a lot of times it's helpful to have a season on the ground especially if you have no farming background because you will be working with loaders who are high school student's etc with limited experience away from base in a fast paced environment. One can easily loose a grip on things if you can't manage the ground side of it and get organized. Aerial application is a very niche market and specialty type of flying so while your tailwheel time will be very helpful the actually Ag flying experience is what counts as the name of the game is applying a very expensive product in a very narrow window for the grower. Realistically the only way to get into this game is to take an approved course through Battlefords air spray or Miccar Aerial and get on with an operator who will let you fly one of their entry level aircraft so you can gain the necessary experience to be safe/efficient and insurable on a larger turbine aircraft. While it can be a tough to get your foot in the door it's a very challenging and rewarding type of flying which you either love or despise. Salary can really vary as wages depend on acres sprayed, generally the pilot gets a per acre wage or percentage of revenue for the aircraft. Your first couple seasons you will be in a smaller slower aircraft therefore you will not be able to spray a large number of acres and will make less money than a seasoned Ag pilot and not to mention the weather and farming economy play a huge roll in the outcome of your earnings. But that being said a seasoned pilot flying a 400+ gallon turbine aircraft can do quite well in an average to good year. Your best bet is to go take an Ag course and start putting on some miles pounding pavement and talking to operators and hopefully land yourself a mixing job and maybe even a seat in your first year or two.
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C.W.E.
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by C.W.E. » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:14 pm

For me it was the best type of flying I ever did.
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Wasp_Jr
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by Wasp_Jr » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:39 am

C.W.E. wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:14 pm
For me it was the best type of flying I ever did.
X2

And it’s a good time to get into the industry as there is a shortage of AG pilots in Canada. Often times if you start with an operator and you get into an entry level aircraft for a couple seasons they will get you insured on something that they would ask a lot more time for from
an off the street applicant.
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C.W.E.
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by C.W.E. » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:54 am

Further to my other comment, aerial application is a seasonal job and one needs a plan to earn a living on the off season and I chose driving tractor trailer trucks after the application season ended and it was a great way to live.

If I had it to do over again I would have stayed with that method of working but then I would have missed a lot of interesting other kinds of flying.
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dogone
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by dogone » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:14 pm

Roger that; best flying ever. Adrenalin filled days.
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C.W.E.
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by C.W.E. » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:20 pm

Conversely the kind of flying I liked least was flying in the air show circuit.
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Flyboy19803
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by Flyboy19803 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:47 am

I'm entering into my 17th season as an Ag pilot. I fly commercially in the off season but the Ag flying always brings me back. There are a lot of good operators out there and they will guide you in the right the direction. Ag flying has always treated me really good.
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ijustseethesky
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Re: Thoughts on Aerial Application

Post by ijustseethesky » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:26 am

Flyboy19803 wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:47 am
I'm entering into my 17th season as an Ag pilot. I fly commercially in the off season but the Ag flying always brings me back. There are a lot of good operators out there and they will guide you in the right the direction. Ag flying has always treated me really good.
Where were you able to find a commercial flying job just in the winter time? Is it the same company that takes you back each winter? Contract?
Thanks
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