Richard “Dick” Reade
1948 — first ag pilot to apply toxaphene spray.
1949 — formed Mid-Continent Aerial Sprayers.
1959 — named the Grumman “Ag-Cat”.
1967 — assisted in founding the National Agricultural Aviation Association, and was elected the first president of NAAA, also received the first Agrinaut Award for his role in the formation of NAAA.
1979 — awarded the NAAA William O. Marsh Safety Award.
1986 — awarded the NAAA Outstanding Service Award.
1987 — Mid-Continent awarded the Agrinaut Award.
1991 — became a member in the prestigious Falcon Club.
Dick Reade began his aviation career upon entry into the U.S. Army Air Corps Flight Program. Beginning in a PT-17 Stearman aircraft, Dick progressed through flight training to become a pilot flying an F-5 (P-38) reconnaissance in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
With the end of the war, Dick was released from active duty and then completed a degree in agriculture at Iowa State University. Dick was able to combine his love for aviation with the field of agriculture in 1948, by becoming an ag pilot with M & T Aerial Spray Co. in Cedar Falls, Iowa where he became the first pilot to apply toxaphene by air during an army worm run.
In 1949, Dick formed Mid-Continent Aerial Sprayers, located at Traer, Iowa and in 1951, moved the company’s operations to Hayti, Missouri. Throughout the 1950’s, Dick operated Mid-Continent as an aerial application company and developed a quick-change, liquid/dry combination system for the 450 hp Stearman aircraft which were in abundant use at the time. Mid-Continent performed several large state and federal spray projects, including budworm control in Canada operating more than 50 Stearmans, and served as project manager for many years during this period. In 1959, Mid-Continent became the first Grumman Ag-Cat distributor and it was Dick who suggested the name “Ag-Cat” for the aircraft.
During the 1960s, Dick served as membership chairman and chairman of the ag committee of the National Aviation Transportation Association. In 1968, many ag operators organized and formed the National Agricultural Aviation Association and Dick was elected its first president. He was awarded the first “Agrinaut” award by the NAAA for exemplary service in establishing and organizing the association. Dick has remained an active member throughout NAAA’s history. Dick’s company, Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation, was awarded the “Agrinaut” award once again in 1987 for development of its hopper rinse system which allows the aircraft to be rinsed and the rinseate then dispersed over the target field. Dick also received the William O. Marsh Safety Award in 1979 for significant achievements in safety and the Outstanding Service Award in 1986 for outstanding service to ag aviation. Dick worked diligently to reduce workman’s compensation rates in several Delta region states, helping to bring down these rates to livable levels, sometimes as much as 75-80% of the base rate.
When the EPA decided to implement certification in various states, Dick assisted in consulting to establish reasonable guidelines for the core manual and the ag aviation segments. He has been a member of the Missouri Governor’s Ag Council and Pesticide committee, is a Paul Harris Rotary Foundation Fellow, and a member of the El Kahir Shrine in Iowa.
Dick has been an active member of the Foundation Board of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum and the National Agricultural Aviation Museum in Jackson, Mississippi since its beginning in 1980. Dick was one of the original group working with Commissioner Jim Buck Ross to establish this focal point museum for the history of ag aviation and has been on the board ever since its inception. He has served on the committee for the National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame Golf Tournament, as well.
During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, under Dick’s leadership, Mid-Continent has supplied the worldwide ag aviation industry with over 2,500 new and used aircraft. Mid-Continent, with its partners Dennie Stokes and Larry Cookemboo, presently operate several ag aircraft providing aerial application services in the United States. Further, Mid-Continent provides sales and services to ag operators in over 50 countries throughout the world.
Dick’s foresight and dedication to agricultural aviation for over 50 years has been the primary force in building Mid-Continent into one of the world’s largest and best known agricultural aviation organizations. His “Plane-Talk” articles in Mid-Continent’s Planegram have been shared by ag operators around the world and his devotion and dedication have given the ag aviation industry an invaluable benefit.
NAAHOF Inductees is a series of articles featuring the inductees to the National Agricultural Aviation Museum’s Hall of Fame. Although some of the information is limited, including in some cases unknown induction years, it is the best compilation available from The National Agricultural Aviation Museum, the NAAHOF Nominations Board of Directors, the NAA Museum Board of Directors and Mabry Anderson’s book, Low and Slow.