Friday, August 3, 2012

Crop Dusters and Dry Days at Amana Airport


The grass strip at the Amana, Iowa airport looks pretty crispy these days due to regional drought conditions. Not withstanding some area crop fields need spraying for pests, weeds or fertilizer control. Recent growing conditions brought two Grumman Ag Cat crop dusters to Amana's private airport. These types of fixed wing single engine airplanes typically travel regionally during summer months to provide timely and cost effective aerial applications for local farmers.

Onboard these Ag Cats are huge plastic tanks containing the control agent (pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer) in liquid form. The tank is located ahead of the pilot with a section extending into the cockpit. Visual inspection of the fluid levels tell the pilot when the spray mixture has been applied or is about empty.

A series of spray nozzles below the fuselage and wings deliver product to the fields. All of this is powered by huge Pratt & Whitney radial engines that provide tons of horsepower needed to perform steep dives and pull-ups associated with precise spraying. The FAA lists 303 of these Grumman made planes on its register, meaning that about 1/2 percent of entire national fleet can be currently seen at the Amana Airport.