AgWatch


Aerial Applicator Business Takes Flight


 In addition to his farming operation, Perry Galloway is also an
 accomplished pilot, has a very successful crop dusting business and
 still flies about 250 hours a year.

 Photo by John LaRose






BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER
MidAmerica Farmer Grower

GREGORY, ARK.
   Perry Galloway also has a very successful crop dusting business, and he became involved in this business in an interesting way.
   “I was an instrument rated commercial pilot and flight instructor, but I didn’t know how to fly a tail wheel airplane,” he said. “I needed instruction. So I found a man in Memphis, Mo., who could teach me to do that and he was a crop duster. I had an issue with the passenger plane that I was flying when I visited him, so he told me to leave it at his place and fly back in one of his crop dusters and play with it.”
   Galloway did that and at that time a friend needed 120 acres of wheat sprayed and he agreed to let Galloway give that a try with the borrowed plane. Normally it takes 30 minutes to do that, but it took him all day.
   “I loaded the airplane with a garden hose – we didn’t have GPS guidance so I took a pile of waster cotton out in the field to have a mark to go by – and I was hooked!
   “I bought a Cessna ag truck (a plane) and flew it for two years. The first year I had two customers, then the interest grew and the next year I had about 10 customers. I thought I needed a bigger plane. So I bought a new air tractor 402 and my customer base skyrocketed to about 30 accounts in two years.”
   “So now I’m sitting in the plane all the time instead of working the farm,” Galloway realized. “I figured I have still yet to get a bigger plane. So, in 2009 I bought a new air tractor 602 and I went to 45 customers. I am still spending way too much time in the plane to be a large farmer. Also, there were better options at this point.
   “So one Saturday morning a young boy who looked like he was about 12, Jacob Pruitt, came in and said ‘I want to be an ag pilot,’ he continued. “I am an FAA Certified Flight Instructor, so I said O.K., come in when you get out of high school.
   “Then he said: ‘I graduated last night.’ I told him to ‘leave me your number and I’ll call you back.’ Then he called me twice a day for two to three weeks, so I told him that if we were going to talk every day he might as well come to work for me. That was seven years ago, it took three years for Jacob to become a qualified aerial applicator. Originally I leased an ag truck for him to fly. Jacob’s second year I bought a used air tractor that he flew for two years. I was still flying 600 hours a year and he was flying 400.”
   In 2014 he began taking the role of primary pilot, flying Galloway’s larger plane.
   “In 2015 I bought him a new air tractor 602, so now we run two 602 air tractors, and we treat about 250,000 acres per year between the two of us. He flies 700 hours a year and I am down to about 250 hours. That business also has led us to being a full-service farm chemical retailer,” Galloway summed.
   Among his many credits, Galloway is a Certified Crop Advisor. He is also a Certified Flight Instructor/Instrument and has ratings for single engine, multi engine, commercial and sea planes. ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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