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(Video) Mississippi Delta Crop Duster pilot

The world of crop dusting cotton in the Mississippi Delta flying a dual cockpit Stearman (Skip to 2m35s for flying part) ( More...

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grude 6
I used to be the flagman when I was in my teens in Alberta Canada.(Early seventies and we never had any umbrellas, good idea though) We started with 15 steps into the field on the first pass and then 20 steps after that across the field. They never sprayed pesticides, only herbicides but the herbicides were mixed with diesel fuel and not water as water had too much drift in the winds we have up here, they needed something heavier. We had a spray company that worked with us that actually flew a piper cub, that crashed one day after hitting trees, no one was hurt, and a Cessna 4 seater (probably a 172). The pilots were incredible and I'm sure the herbicides never nurt me..hurt me...hurt me, oops maybe.
Peter Douglas 3
Yes, there are health effects for some. As a teenager I too was doing flagman duties on our cotton farm near Wee Waa (in northern New South Wales, Australia) about 50 years ago, and about 10 years later developed severe sinus infections that needed operations, and at the time the medical complications were blamed on exposure to the sprayed chemicals - 2-4-5-T and Deildrin are names I remember. Back then, nobody knew that there may be health problems, so very few precautions were taken - we waved flags to help the pilot line up on the crop rows, then ran a certain number of rows across the field for the next pass, but we ran to get out of the path of the plane, not to dodge the spray.

The health effects are not what I remember most about that time though, it's the sheer joy I had of flying as a passenger in a single seat Piper Pawnee when it was crop-dusting. Those of you who know that plane will realise how that must've looked when I was sitting on the window ledge with my bum, chest, shoulder and arm outside in the slipstream. It was really good fun, but the OH&S-police would've had a heart attack if they'd seen that.
grude 1
Yes, you are right, we never were worried about the spray hitting you, just the plane. We had one pilot who once in a while would side slip a little to make it look like he hadn't lined up properly and make you stay longer than you wanted to. Then he would straighten up and make you hit the ground. He always had a grin on his face when he got you hit the dirt.
Torsten Hoff 4
Watching that makes me wonder where those guys are today. Both the pilot and spotter risked terrible health effects.
bentwing60 6
Must be a selective hazard, as one of my old scooter riding buddies dusted for a guy named Tetter in Texarkana for years, then flew for and retired from Continental nee Texas International and is still riding today in his mid seventies. Must be the exception. And he liked dusting too. These days we just smoke cheap cigars and drink tequila at the hotel after the ride. Somethin to do while we age and maybe it staves off the dementia or makes it worse, I can't remember. It doesn't always have to be good for you if you enjoy it but don't tell that to the PC crowd, as I for one, don't want to live forever in their universe. Love the video too! Tanks Daniel!
btweston -2
What a strange outlook...
Scott Keller 1
Well the pilot died a multibillionaire flying an ultralight in the Tetons 35 years later...
Derek Vaughn 7
Not many people know, but this is where the origin of Delta Airlines began in the 1920's. The company started out crop dusting in the Louisiana and Mississippi delta, (hence the name "Delta"). Then, later began flying mail, sometimes carrying a passenger along. Eventually, it was discovered that passenger flying could be profitable and the rest is commercial aviation history. All agricultural flying these days is done with turbine engines, and has been that way for years now. But the video is nostalgic and reminds me of simpler times.
Bill Bailey 3
There are still a lot of piston powered dusters running around.
Turbines are the future, but you won't have to go far to hear the growl of an R-1340.
A couple companies in my area (So. Idaho) still have radial engines (though most are turbines now).
Jesse Baron 1
This is only marginally incorrect. Delta started as a crop dusting company but it was out of South GA.
James Carter 1
Delta's first base of operations was in Monroe, La. Gen. Chas. Chenault was on the first board of directors. There is still quite a bit of information about him and early Delta Airlines years in the museum on the airport in Monroe.
Derek Vaughn 1
Delta Airlines started out of Louisiana. Huff-Daland Dusters started up out of Georgia and moved to Monroe, La a year later. So you are correct about there. The first Delta passenger route started in 1929 as Dallas-Shreveport-Monroe-Jackson. It was later extended to Ft. Worth to the west, and Meridian and Birmingham to the east.
Tim Baker 3
Interesting film, the very early scene of the broken plane looks like the plane flying in the video. I'm wondering if the young flyer went down, at the very least it places a question in mind about the pilot's well being.
Tim Baker 3
Vimeo comment quote "Don I believe the pilot in your Video is a very young John Walton. I worked and flew with John in the mid 70s. He owned several spray operations in Arizona and Texas. I can't be 100% sure but that is who I believe it to be"

This guy sure does look like John T. Walton, yes that John T. Walton!!
Scott Keller 1
I think it is "that" John Walton. Look at this from his obituary: "Throughout his life, Walton pursued a variety of business interests, including crop dusting in the 1970s and boat building in the 1980s and 1990s, and was a noted philanthropist."
One of the comments on Vimeo says this was shot in the 1970's. Apparently the Stearman is still flying; registered to an owner in NJ and flying in CO last month.
sparkie624 3
I have seen those guys fly and they are crazy.. I saw one that looked like he was coming right towards me on the interstate and he went to the side very close... Some of those guys are crazy...
gma92 2
crop dusting pilots are awesome I reckon. a lot of accidents though unfortunately. saw a guy once spraying a small paddock and he missed a corner of the paddock so he came around and flew under the power lines to get it.
Peter Douglas 4
Reminds me of one accident on our farm - the pilot had to fly either under or over a powerline that was across the middle of one field, which was about 100 acres. Close to the pylons, he flew under the wires, but they hung too low in the middle, so he was going up over them and down onto the crop again (similar to the video here, where the pilot went up over trees and back down again). On one pass he got the tail wheel caught on a wire as he came back down. The wire stretched and the speed dropped to zero as he levelled out a few feet off the crop, and about the same time that the pilot realised he was in deep do-do, the wire broke, at the same time as he cut the throttle. The plane just dropped the last 2 feet onto the crop. No forward speed, just sat it down in the mud - the crop was being irrigated and the black soil there was just glue when it was wet. The 'landing' was about 200 yards from the nearest road, and it took over a week before they could get the plane out. It took them a while to fix the powerline too.
steve steve 2
Sweet , great , marvelous ....I like that ....
7540 1
I did my spraying with a R-2600.....900 gal tank.....TBM-3E
Anson Galyon 1
Unfortunately, two dusters have died in separate incidents in West Tennessee during the month of August. NTSB is investigating both.
Scott Keller 1
Great video... I saw in the comments section of the video that the pilot is John Walton. Which is amazing because in 1971 I doubt anyone in Anguilla MS would suspect he'd be a multi billionaire by 2005 when he died. I'm not positive it's him, but it looks like him and here's a line from an obituary I found: "Throughout his life, Walton pursued a variety of business interests, including crop dusting in the 1970s and boat building in the 1980s and 1990s, and was a noted philanthropist."
It sounds like this is the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Here's a link to an article in Wikipedia. He had quite a life - - decorated Vietnam vet, aviation career, died with his boots on.
Link to People magazine article on fatal plane crash.,,1077736,00.html
James Driskell -2
Both the pilot and his flagger are prime candidates for the Darwin Award.


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