Have you ever wondering who was in the plane flying fungicide over your acres? Well we would like to introduce you to one of our many elite agronomy pilots.
Meet Adam Way flying out of our Henderson location of Aurora Ag Aviation.
Years of Service: 16 years total and 3 years with Aurora Coop specifically.
What Inspired You to Become an Ag Pilot?
I’m not sure if I was ever “inspired” to become an ag pilot. I grew up around both agriculture and aviation, but I wasn’t sure if it was possible to become an ag pilot having not grown up in a crop dusting family. Back then the industry was more of a family business. I went to college and earned my pilot’s license, but I was pursuing a career in science. After college I was involved in research and development with the Corps of Engineers. The nature of that work would place me in close proximity to both farming and crop dusting. I don’t know, there was just this sort of pull that kept me thinking about crop dusting, so after 10 years I decided if I was thinking about it that much for that long I should make an attempt to fly ag.
Why Do You Believe Aerial Application Is So Important?
The efficiency of the aircraft allows us to deliver products over a huge area in a short time. This is important both in emergencies and in preventative/nutritive measures. I’ve worked with a lot of farmers over the years. Some use the airplane purely in an emergency and some use the aircraft in order to zero in on providing a key nutrient while their crop is in a particular growth stage. With precise timing and the precise amount of product applied, growers are seeing a return on their investment with the airplane in non emergency situations. Higher yields per acre farmed is good for everyone. The airplane’s efficiency allows the grower to take advantage of these short windows of opportunity to apply certain products during the appropriate growth stage. Prior to precision farming, the airplane was mostly used in emergencies, and it still is. In emergency situations we are capable of treating a large number of acres in a short amount of time. This gives farmers another tool in their arsenal while trying to protect their investment. Overall, the efficiency of the aircraft means larger yields per acre farmed in unplanned emergencies as well as planned preventative, and nutrition programs.
What Do You Love Most About Flying?
Nothing is ever the same. Every load is different. Every field is different (even when you go back to the same field something will be different). No situation seems to ever repeat itself, so the work overall never becomes monotonous. That being said, we do however, go back and forth and back and forth. For those of us with a little OCD, doing the same thing over and over to our own specs is very satisfying! It is nice at the end of the day to see your product take shape and be complete. Outside of the work, I’ve always enjoyed working with people in agriculture, everyone from the growers, retailers, manufacturers, applicators, and all the other activities that support agriculture take a lot of pride in their work and product. I relate to that well.
Do You Consider the Training Leading Up to Becoming a Successful Ag Pilot Difficult?
It all depends, I’ve known a lot of ag pilots, all from various backgrounds, experience and age. Some may have found it more difficult than others due to not having much exposure to agriculture. It is a good idea to spend a few years loading aircraft and working with growers, learning what they expect and what their experience has been working with applicators in the past. Some pilots have been working their whole life in order to fly, you know, by growing up in the business, while others have to catch up in a short amount of time. Either way, the work you put into landing your first seat can be physically demanding but it can be a good experience. The job itself will then tell you pretty quick if it is or is not for you, and I’m not just talking about the flying. I know several pilots who are very talented, but the stresses of the job (which there can be many) kept them from continuing to pursue a career in spraying.
Most Acres Sprayed in 24 Hours?
I have no idea really…
Who Inspires You Throughout Your Everyday Work Life?
I’m not sure, that probably changes. I may see someone that I don’t even know but like the way that person performs a task and will be inspired for the day. One thing I can tell you though, in this business, it is good to recognize when you see someone successfully handling a situation and taking note. I’m big on asking questions when I see someone successfully perform a task, even if I don’t know them. Ag aviation is big on mentoring, as it should be. We don’t really have a “how to” manual, but we have those in the industry who are willing to share their experiences as long as the questions are asked.
Do You Have Any Superstitions When It Comes to Flying?
Pineapple or No Pineapple on Pizza?
Pineapple on pizza??? I’d rather not.