Crop Duster – Patch Price
Posted by romeethredge on March 23, 2012
One particular Ag Pilot here in Donalsonville has the most experience of anyone I know of in cropdusting. Patch Price started flying when he was still a child and began agricultural flying in 1957. He began working out of Dothan Aviation in Alabama and in the early 60’s came to Donalsonville and has been here ever since. He has logged over 40,000 hours of flying, and we are not talking about easy flying either, there’s no autopilot on a cropdusting airplane and no copilot seat on his plane. Patch has 54 years of aerial application experience and has a good reputation for putting the agricultural chemical or fertilizer where it is needed. He recalls the early years when it was all dusts that were applied and there were very few of those available. He said the most common application on peanuts was 20 pounds of Sulfur per acre. He also was a part of the Fire Ant Control Program, where low volume granular chemicals were applied over large areas of the state. He flew a retrofittted B 17 Bomber on those “missions” . Patch said he’d had some close calls over the years but no crashes and he credits keeping good equipment as being a key to safety.
I’ve flown with Patch in a regular passenger plane and he is a good pilot to fly with. He’s 73 now and still works hard for our farmers to keep our crops in good shape.
But, I still have no desire to fly in a crop dusting plane with anyone even if there was an extra seat.
Here’s some additional information from the National Agricultural Aviation Association(NAAA).
“Aerial application is a critical component of high-yield agriculture. High yield agriculture, which includes the responsible use of crop protection products, benefits the environment by producing maximum crop yields from fewer acres. Some farmers apply their products from the ground using ground equipment, but many have realized that using an ag plane to do this work is often more efficient and effective. For example, aircraft can treat wet fields and spray when crop canopies are too thick for ground rigs. Unlike ground rigs, aerial application does not contribute to topsoil runoff. Moreover, when pests or disease threatens a crop, time is critical. At a minimum, an airplane or helicopter can accomplish three times as much application work as any other form of application can.”