"Don Bair was instrumental in pioneering crop dusting around here. We took an old trainer [Piper J-3 Cub] and we put a tank in the back seat and hung a spray boom under the wing and put a little propeller- driven pump to supply the pressure. We really didn't know what we were doing, but we went from there to being a pretty good organization. Don Bair was really an aviation pioneer around here…
   "It's a way to apply chemicals to a crop without running a tractor over the crop and running things down, and whatnot. It's a very efficient way of getting the right amount in the right place…
   "It was all pretty new. In some parts of the country, there had been quite a little bit of crop dusting that had been going on for a long time, but now around here… Down in the Mississippi Delta, and whatnot, they had been doing that for some time…
   "We had herbicides, and we had insecticides. We had DDT, which was later outlawed. And we had 2,4-D for herbicides. You'd have your airplane calibrated to put out the right amount, and you got a nice, smooth, even application… 2,4-D was our primary weed killer at the time…
   "You had to be a little careful, because you didn't want to get it some place where you didn't want it, because it could kill trees and shrubbery and damage crops…
   "Everybody that flew kind of had a desire to buzz, get close to the ground and get close to things, and whatnot. It kind of adds to that. [Laughs.] But, really it's just about as dangerous as you want to make it. If you've been in the business for a while, you leave yourself leeway to clear objects, and whatnot…
   "I was spraying up there, and I was flying off the road [landing and taking off] which has never been determined to be illegal. We've been questioned about doing it, and we've talked to the state patrol. Their attitude was, as long as we didn't create a risk, why [not]. And we were careful about that. But anyway, I was spraying up there, and just as I got done, I took off. And as I left the ground, here come the sheriff's car. And I took off right over the sheriff. Just kept going. [Laughs.] And I'm sure that he was coming out to investigate me."

Jim Chenault – Crop Dusting


Other Excerpts from Jim Chenault's Interview:

Pearl Harbor
Enlisting before High School Graduation
Bombing Germany from England
Nisei Internment in California
V-E Day
Student Pilots on the GI Bill
Flying the Berlin Airlift
Mining the Aquifer
Irrigation Enabling Other Technologies