A look back at 2017

At the end of the year, AgAir Update’s December cover story is a recap of the last 11 cover feature stories. The January edition launched a cover story article about a company that defines being big does not mean being the best for an ag operation. Aero Agricola Solo allowed AgAir Update to visit it

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At the end of the year, AgAir Update’s December cover story is a recap of the last 11 cover feature stories. The January edition launched a cover story article about a company that defines being big does not mean being the best for an ag operation. Aero Agricola Solo allowed AgAir Update to visit it during our travels in Brazil. Its owner, Alberto Marques Monteiro do Nacimento asked, “Why would AgAir Update want to visit my company. It is small, nothing special.”

All ag-operations are special in one way or another. They do not have to have a large fleet of ag planes. All ag-operations face similar problems and enjoy similar successes. Like with so many visits throughout Brazil and all of Latin America, AgAir Update was invited into Alberto and his wife, Joana’s home. It is hard to beat a plate full of cassava and rib beef, regardless of the company’s size!   

For the February edition’s cover story, AgAir Update’s Brazilian representative, Gina Hickmann, visited Garra Aviaçao Agricola in Mato Grosso. In a short time, Garra built a company that seeks business excellence with a team that focuses on meeting the needs of its customers efficiently, but professionally and safely. The company’s logo, “Helping the farmer, producer to feed and clothe the world” says it all.  (“Ajudando o agricultor, produtor a alimentar e vestir o mundo.”).

With the March edition, Thrush Aircraft introduces its new simulator, the 510AS. The motion simulator was designed to introduce new ag-pilots to the 510 series Thrush aircraft. It also serves as a training tool for more experienced pilots to fulfill different scenarios a pilot can undertake during flight. Now, a 510AS is based in Brazil for training purposes after its introduction at the 2017 SINDAG/Mercosul event in Canela.

The April edition tells the story of an Arkansas operator that uses the Vietnam war-era UH-1H helicopter for spraying operations. John Smith and Rick Meek’s J&R Flying Service’s three UH-1Hs, more commonly called a Huey, are outfitted with 400-gallon tanks with a typical load capacity of 250-300 gallons. The company also operates an AT-802 Air Tractor for mainly dry applications over the rice fields of Arkansas.

May’s cover story recants AgAir Update’s evaluation flight of the new EMB203 Ipanema. This aircraft is a good example of acquiring more performance through aerodyamic design without adding more horsepower. Often, in ag-aviation the easiest solution to improved performance is to increase the horsepower of the aircraft. However, it is not always the best solution as typically more horsepower requires more fuel and sometimes a different engine. Aerodynamic improvements pay for itself over and over without an additional cost once adapted.

The Ipanema EMB203 was no exception. It flew much better than its predecessors and was an all around good performing aircraft. However, its manufacturer, Embraer, did not stop with enhanced performance in the new EMB203. Its ergonomics were vastly improved, as well. A comfortable ag-pilot while flying is a safer and more productive ag-pilot. So, even the attention to ergonomics indirectly improved the performance of the Ipanema.

As it has happened so many times after more than 25 years of traveling in Brazil, AgAir Update was finally able to visit one of its very first friends, Alan Poulsen and his son Alan, Jr. of Taim Aero Agricola, Ltda. in Pelotas, RS. Taim was featured on the cover of the June edition. It operates several Ipanema aircraft from a very large rice farm south of Pelotas. Also, both Poulsens have worked together to expand the reach of the company by being the Spectrum Electrostatic dealer for South America, as well as Alan, Jr.’s development of software, Precisão em Campo, that helps the aerial applicator track applications and operate a more profitable company. Taim was the first ag-operation to utilize the Spectrum Electrostatic system, as well as the first ag-operation to spread dry materials with the Transland Gaucho spreader.

AgAir Update’s July edition’s cover story featured the celebration of the delivery of the 700th AT-802. From its early beginning in 1992, Air Tractor has changed the face of aerial firefighting with the AT-802 at the helm of the Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) fleet. Spanish company, Aviasa has bought for its use and sold through its sister company, Air Tractor Europe, more than any other company involved with AT-802s. Over a decade ago, the AT-802 operating in Brazil was unheard of. Today, it is commonly seen flying over Brazilian fields and protecting the country’s land from wildfires.

Brazil is a very aggressive nation when it comes to technology. Embracing new technology for ag-aviation is no exception as proven by the efforts of Brazilian company Travicar in the August edition of AgAir Update. With nearly 50 years of history in ag-aviation spraying equipment design, brothers Eduardo, Felipe and Tarmian Boris have expanded Travicar’s technology to include the manufacture of GPS units for aircraft and electrostatic spray systems for both ground and aircraft equipment.

Aerial firefighting worldwide has become a very important component for ag-pilots utilizing primarily the AT-802 in Brazil. AgAir Update’s September feature article tells the story of the AT-802s’ role fighting fires in European countries Bulgaria, Turkey and Israel. This year, 2017, has been a record breaking year for aerial firefighting. If not for the quick and efficient use of Single Engine Air Tanker aircraft, much more property and many more lives would have been lost.

The October edition of AgAir Update takes its readers to California where it is “Tudo em familia”. So many ag-operations worldwide, including Brazil, are family operations where family members work at all the various jobs that it takes to be in the aerial application business. It doesn’t matter if the operation is in California, Mato Grosso, Rio Grande do Sul, or anywhere else in the world, the family owned and operated ag-aviation company is very special.

With the November edition of AgAir Update, a return to not only Brazil, but to another friend for more than two decades, Garcia Avição Agrícola owned and operated by Joana and José Paulo Rodrígues Garcia in Ribeirão Preto, SP. Garcia has always been a pioneer with innovative ideas that he has used in his ag-operation. His company was one of the first to use GPS units in its aircraft. Today, Garcia Avição Agrícola pioneers the application of wasp eggs for insect control. Also, the company is one of the first in Brazil to use the helicopter for ag-operations, a Robinson R44.

With previous renditions of eleven AgAir Update cover feature stories in 2017, the publication year comes to an end with this December edition. It starts all over with the upcoming January edition and will continue throughout 2018. The future for ag-aviation is bright. The Brazilian economy may often struggle, but there will always be one factor that guarantees the ongoing future of ag-aviation and that is the ever growing seven billion people in the world who will always have to eat. Agricultural aviation helps to ensure that necessity is met.   

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