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2016 – A year in review

Each year with the December edition, AgAir Update looks back at its feature cover stories of the previous 11 months. Beginning with the January edition, contributing AgAir Update writer Alan McCracken visits with a large Brazilian farming operation (120,000 hectares) to calibrate their Air Tractors and Ipanema aircraft. Alan uses proven methods to produce an efficient spray pattern at low volumes. In this article, Alan explains how this is done along with some of his “tricks of the trade” such as using mirrors to collect droplets for analyzing.

There are very few female ag-pilots, even though it can be a well-suited job for a woman. AgAir Update columnist Juliana Torchetti reveals how she became involved first in general aviation to later become an accomplished ag-pilot flying the Brazilian-built Ipanema. The reader can follow her efforts to reach this coveted job and how she views it from her cockpit as a woman.

The March edition includes AgAir Update’s special AirFire & Forestry section that focuses on aerial firefighting, primarily Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs). With the March edition, a second AT-802F simulator becomes available for training aerial firefighting pilots. The simulator is part of Avialsa’s multi-aircraft, maintenance and training company based in Spain. Another AT-802F simulator owned by AeroGlobo is based in Brazil.

After a visit to Colombia, AgAir Update’s April edition features a very large and long established (50 years) ag operation, Calima. The company, owned and operated by two sisters, have a fleet of 11 turbine powered Thrush, one radial powered Thrush and five Cessna C-188 aircraft. A unique operation with its own full size control tower, Calima sets the bar for professionalism combined with safe operations. Pilots’ days start at daybreak and fly over banana plantations for the next three hours until temperature, humidity and wind dictate the end of operations for that day, almost every day of the year.

In this May edition, Alan McCracken visits Central American country Belize. Often thought of as a vacationland, Belize is also host to a couple of ag-operations with a diverse fleet of 15 ag-aircraft that treat rice, soybeans, sorghum and some bananas. Alan, an expert in low volume application aircraft setup and contributing AgAir Update writer, evaluates several Belize ag-aircraft using both Micronair rotary atomizers and CP Products nozzles.

This year has been exciting with the formal introduction of the Ipanema 203 at the Ribeirao Preto Agrishow in April. Five aircraft were delivered in December 2015 and 14 presentations of the aircraft have been made throughout Brazil contributing to its mounting success. The aircraft is a derivative of the proven Ipanema 202 with modifications that vastly improve performance without sacrificing cost-saving efficiency. Using aerodynamics to accomplish this, Embraer engineers have done an outstanding job.

Helicopter ag operations have been around for decades throughout the world. Oddly, Brazil had not embraced helicopter ag flying until this past year when Climb Aircraft Division began treating crops like sugarcane. The company is breaking ground in Brazil with its heli-ops. It is only a matter of time before more helicopters are used to treat crops in Brazil.

The symbol of the American Red Cross is known throughout the world for its lifesaving activities. Colombian operation Sanidad Vegetal Cruz Verde adopts a similar symbol; a green cross to signify its crop saving applications. With a fleet of 11 Piper Pawnee PA-25s and two Cessna C-188s, the 50+ year old company successfully treats primarily rice in the central region of the country.

With the September edition, the AirFire & Forestry section is included. “Living the dream” tells a story by AAU’s AirFire & Forestry chief editor, Marc Mullis, what it is like to be an aerial firefighter. Marc has been involved in ag-aviation for nearly forty years following in the footsteps of his father. Today, he is an accomplished SEAT pilot flying wherever the firefighting contracts take him.

Once again AgAir Update contributing writer Alan McCracken provides more insight for setting up spray systems of ag-planes; this time in Bolivia. Testing a wide range of aircraft that included the Pezetel radial powered Kruk, Ag-Cat and Cessna C-188, Alan demonstrates all ag-aircraft can improve their spray patterns, particularly with a low volume protocol.

Another AirFire & Forestry section for 2016 was in the November AgAir Update Latinoamerican edition focusing on a leader in the aerial firefighting industry; Ted Stalling’s Aero Tech. The Aero Tech story is one where adversity is met with determination. Coming from an ag-aviation family, starting his flying career at a very early age (14), Ted formed Ted’s Spraying Service and later Aero Tech, specializing in government contract flying. It was then that Ted had a serious flying accident that nearly took his life. Spending more than 15 months in a hospital bed, the business suffered. But, when semi-recovered, Ted began rebuilding the company from the ground up into one that is known nationwide in the aerial business for its diversity.

AgAir Update’s Latinoamerican December edition wraps up its recap of 2016. For most ag operations in the U.S., the season has been “fair to midlin”, meaning not as great as some seasons in the recent past, but not a disaster year either. Other parts of the world have had a mixed bag of flying hours; South Africa was extremely depressed, while at the end of 2016 with abundant rainfall Australian operators are working at full bore. The season for South American operations is just beginning with favorable implications. Be sure to visit agairupdate.com’s archives to read again these wonderful articles about ag-aviation worldwide, along with many other articles featured on the inside pages of AgAir Update.








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