William “Bill” Precht, son of Charles and Ella Mae Flourney Precht, was just a boy when he started helping work his father’s and uncles’ 1,200-acre rice and cattle farm in Sweetlake. “I knew a long time ago, I wasn’t going to be a farmer,” said the 84-year-old retired crop duster. “It’s hard work.” His interest was in the pilots who seeded the fields and applied herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer by plane — crop dusters. In earlier times, these pilots used only dry chemicals, thus the name crop duster. Now, agricultural aerial application pilots — as they are called in some circles — deliver mostly liquid products.
‘Cowboy of the Skies’ Bill Precht, 84, Recalls his Cropdusting Days