Grant Erling Lane, a prominent agricultural aviator, passed away at his home in Richmond, Texas on July 12, 2023 surrounded by his wife and children. Born May 3, 1954 in Rosenberg, Texas, he was 69 years old.
Grant’s passion to fly began at the age of 4. Despite initial nausea on ascent, he begged to be in any airplane that came to Lane Airport, established in 1945 by his father and uncle. Out growing that nausea, he ultimately learned to fly well before his 16th birthday and soloed in 5 different airplanes for his pilot’s license. His driver’s license was secondary.
Grant attended elementary and secondary schools in the Lamar Consolidated School District, graduating in 1972 from Lamar High School. He went on to graduate from Central Texas College in 1974 then in 1975 earned his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics from American Technological University in Killeen, TX. ATU would later become Texas A&M University – Central Texas. Grant was always an Aggie at heart, this just made it official. During the school year he was a flight instructor and spent his summers “crop dusting”. To say he loved flying was an understatement.
Upon graduation, Grant returned home to a permanent role in the family business; Lane Aviation. Under the careful guidance of his father, George, and assuming greater responsibilities over time, Grant bought the company from his father in the 1990’s. Already a well established ag aviation company, Lane Aviation, under Grant’s direction, became the most prominent international dealer of Air Tractors – the leading ag aviation manufacturer of aircraft for crop production and fighting fires. The importance of Grant’s involvement with Air Tractor’s expansion in South America cannot be overstated.
No matter the heights of success Grant reached, he was supported, not envied. Due to his character, his acclaim was never derided. His success was built on hard work, trust, integrity, and relationships; always following through on service after the sale was made. He was never too busy to listen to an engine, knew the aircraft inside and out, and could talk a client through a repair with his eyes closed. Always happy to help, Grant was ever grateful for his customers and fully understood that they were key to Lane Aviation’s growth in the industry.
Grant had in excess of 30,000 hours piloting many types of aircraft. Traveled the world for agriculture aviation but always came home to Richmond/Rosenberg. Because of the importance of Lane Aviation and Grant’s involvement in the community throughout the years, a bright yellow and blue Air Tractor is memorialized in the Rosenberg Mural at Hwy 90 and TX 36. Grant earned his Carrier Certification by landing an AT-502B on the USS Lexington in 1996. He also received numerous industry awards. Privately he felt raising 5 successful, independent, loving children was quite the achievement. Professionally what he became most proud of was the focus for the last decade at Lane Aviation; his successor, Logan Lane. Grant sought to maintain, through Logan, the continuity and service Lane Aviation customers had come to expect. He was decisively confident in handing the reins of the company over to the capable hands of his son.
A thorough deliberate man, who never wavered from the full pre-flight checklist, calm in any situation, Grant was a pilot that soothed anxious passengers by his presence and would always find the smoothest route possible. He was a quiet giant, with a warm smile and firm handshake; a mighty (but humble) man who made big ideas look easy. One who stood by his word, who had life-long friendships, and always had your back. Grant leaves a legacy of principles, not just tangibles. He lived with grace, a modern man with old-fashioned values. He planned ahead, adapting to the times and always working to stay ahead of the curve. He embraced new technologies yet did business with a handshake. He walked his talk and looked people in the eyes. These distinctions made him an ag industry icon and was affectionately referred to as The Legend. He faced cancer and his death with the same strengths. “It is what it is,” he often said. His family, friends, and associates across the industry and throughout the world are mourning the loss.
Grant was preceded in death by his parents George Curry Lane, Jr. (1920-2003) and Mary Judith Tinius Lane (1923-2015). He is survived by his wife: Susan Manning Lane; his children: Scarlet Lane Kelly (Michael), Logan Grant Lane (Samantha), Lane Herfort Thompson (Sarah), Elise Thompson Stanton (Justin), Will Aaron Thompson (Laura); and grandchildren: Jane and Lucy (Scarlet’s), Piper (Lane’s), Ella (Elise’s), and Ben and June (Will’s). He is also survived by older brother Mark Ernest Lane.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Lane Airpark in October.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Grant E. Lane to the National Agricultural Aviation Association Research & Education Foundation (NAAREF) or the Professional Aerial Applicator Support System (PAASS) Program at 1440 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, or your local blood bank.