Gone are the days when farm owners had to manually do most of the farming work. Today, farmers are using all kinds of modern technology and means, at their farms, to ensure that the work is done efficiently and in the least time-consuming way. Using planes to supervise the crops is one of the new age means employed by both small and large farm owners. This job is professionally taken up by many people today, who are referred to as agricultural pilots.
Agricultural Pilot Job Description
As mentioned earlier, the main job of an agricultural pilot is to fly planes over the fields and keep a check on the crops. The planes which these pilots fly have nozzles, through which fertilizers and pesticides are sprayed over the crops. The basic difference between the regular pilots and agricultural pilots is that the former fly planes at a height, while the latter have to fly them much lower. Agricultural pilots have to be very careful as they have to avoid trees, electricity poles and all other kinds of hindrances on the ground, while flying. Secondly, they have to carry heavy loads with themselves, on the flight. Carefully handling these materials, be it fertilizers or pesticides, is an important part of an agricultural pilot's job too.
Another situation that agricultural pilots face, which requires them to be extra cautious, is that they would not always get a runway to take off from. Sometimes, they might have to take off from the road itself, sometimes from nearby fields. So, such professionals should be aptly trained and prepared to take up such flying jobs.
Salary of an Agricultural Pilot
The salary of an agricultural pilot, who has just started, can be anywhere from $20000 to $75000 per year. After gaining experience and working for a few years in the industry, an agricultural pilot can earn up to $150,000 per year. However, for earning such a large amount, an agricultural pilot has to put in long hours. Otherwise, on an average, an agricultural pilot makes around $52000.
The vast variations in salary are due to a number of factors, such as, the place where the agricultural pilot works, the number of hours he works as well as his experience. One more factor that affects the salary is that most of the earnings come in the months when farming is done i.e. summer, spring and fall. As farming is mainly done during these seasons, so the need for agricultural pilots is mostly limited to these times of the year too. At present, most of the agricultural pilots are in fact aircraft owners who have their own business. Those that are employed, generally work for large farm owners or are employed with family businesses who have a fleet of aircraft and a number of farm clients.
How to Become an Agricultural Pilot?
To become an agricultural pilot, a person should be a high school pass out. He would need to undergo training and clear tests to obtain a private pilot's license. After this, he should obtain a commercial pilot rating as well as an agricultural pilot rating. During the training program to obtain agricultural pilot rating, the candidates are given flying time in agricultural airplanes and tail wheel airplanes. They are also provided with GPS training and safety training. As for the rest of the training, it happens on the job. Working under an experienced agricultural pilot, learning the proper ways of handling the heavy load on the plane as well as ways to fly safely at a lower height, during one's initial years, is essential. If a person has previous experience of flying, his prospects of getting a job in this field increase manifold.
An agricultural pilot's job is mainly restricted to the cockpit of a plane. Most of the flying work is done during odd hours. The job requires a person to be very attentive and with clarity of thought, to face any untoward situation. On the bright side, the salary rise is excellent after a few years of experience. So, all those interested in this career should weigh these pros and cons and then arrive at the decision whether to pursue it or not!