Home-A Night with a SATLOC

A Night with a SATLOC

At Night With A Satloc


I had an AgAir Update reader email me about an article he had “dug” up from 1994. Gee, that was 27 years ago! I finally found the article stored away in the archives. It brought back many memories.


In the article, I visited Custom Farm Service in Arizona to attend a Satloc training session. In addition to the school, I had the pleasure of a night spraying ride in a dual-cockpit Thrush piloted by the founder and inventor of Satloc GPS, John Goodwin.


I had operated a turbine Thrush 14 years earlier. My Thrush happened to have night-working lights, but I never really used them. An exception was returning from a late evening load and landing with them, maybe even making the last few passes with them beaming. On one occasion, I flew frost patrol overseed peaches with the Thrush in the wee early morning before daylight. I would not call that flight qualifying me as a night ag pilot since I was literally turning over my house only a couple of hundred yards from my airstrip.


I had a good idea of what to expect during that flight with John, except for one thing; a Satloc unit guided his Thrush. Also, I was unaware of the many perils that could be encountered while night flying, from invisible Arizona dust storms to hidden wires that appeared from seemingly nowhere.


From that barebones Satloc GPS unit, the GPS-guided ag-aviation industry has come a long way. In 1994, hardly any ag-aircraft used GPS. Today, it would be a rare find for an ag-plane not to have one installed in its cockpit. In the years before the 1990s, freehand swaths were commonplace. Now, I dare say that the ag-plane is virtually grounded when the GPS unit fails.


Instead of a basic swath guidance device of the early model Satlocs, in 2022, the units have become highly sophisticated. Swath guidance is only the basis of the machine. Its capabilities possibly have expanded beyond John Goodwin’s wildest dreams. But maybe not; John is a pretty smart fellow.


As I finish this editorial, I am in a hotel room for the Mississippi convention. Last week I attended the Louisiana convention in Lake Charles. Graham and I were scheduled to attend the  Texas and Arkansas conventions, but lousy luck prevailed, and numerous circumstances caused us to miss these two shows. Maybe our luck will improve for the remaining upcoming conventions. We hope to see ya there!


Until next month, Keep Turning…




  • PT6A-34AG Exchange EnginePT6A-34AG Exchange Engine
    PT6A-34AG Exchange Engine, Part Number 302088, Serial Number PEC-RB0343. Available for immediate delivery. PT6A rotating component service life record is in the pictures. Contact our experienced sales[...] Read more »
  • 1993 Weatherly 620B1993 Weatherly 620B
    1993 Weatherly 620B - Pratt and Whitney R985 850 hrs SMOH, Hartzell Prop 0 SMOH, New Oil cooler and lines, new no-Blo exhaust gaskets, SATLOC Bantam with Intelliflow II and L7 Lightbar, Wing AD compli[...] Read more »
  • South Central Nebraska SeatSouth Central Nebraska Seat
    Taking applications to fill a south-central Nebraska turbine seat for the 2022 corn and soybean foliar season. We operate in highly productive irrigated areas of south-central Nebraska as well as nort[...] Read more »

Most Popular