Will Be Operated By Ag-Tech Air In Lena, IL
The 500th Air Tractor 802 series airplane was delivered to its new owner April 4. According to Air Tractor, Inc. President Jim Hirsch, S/N 802A-0500 was delivered to its new owner ... Drew Spidahl, owner of Ag-Tech Air, LLC in Lena, Illinois. Air Tractor dealer Harley Curless of Farm Air, Inc. placed the order and completed the sale in mid February. Harley and son Joe were on hand at Air Tractor with Drew and his father Kay to take delivery of the aircraft. This marks the 500th aircraft produced in the 802 series for ag and firefighting work.
"When the very first production model AT-802 was delivered in 1993, Leland Snow thought he might sell six or eight the first year and would be satisfied if he could sell 10-15 per year," says Hirsch. The aircraft was originally designed as an 800-gallon capacity air tanker for aerial firefighting. The AT-802 was by far the largest capacity ag plane in the industry then, and remains so now, with a 16,000-pound FAA certificated gross weight. "It wasn't long before the 802 was equipped with spray booms and working as an ag plane," said Hirsch. "More and more ag operators saw how the 802 really boosted production and efficiency. Sales steadily grew, and by March 2005, Air Tractor had produced 200 of the AT-802s. Now eight years later we have delivered number 500. Today, the AT-802 is the second best-selling aircraft in our product line, just behind the AT-502."
Drew Spidahl is co-owner of 802 #500 with his father, Kay of Highland Chemical Inc, an independently owned chemical and fertilizer dealer based in Stockton Illinois. The company has served farmers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa for over 30 years. Ag-Tech Air LLC is a subsidiary of Highland Chemical Inc providing aerial application for its 5 retail chemical and fertilizer plants (Ag-Tech of Stockton, Ag-Tech of Shannon, Ag-Tech of Mt. Carroll, Chadwick Oil & Ag Services, and Fulton Fertilizer). The new AT-802 will join another AT-802 at Ag-Tech Air. "We purchased these two Air Tractor 802s for their efficiency," Drew says. "From what I saw of their performance last year, I can say they're quite impressive; they are good, reliable machines."
This season Drew anticipates that both AT-802s will stay busy. He expects an even stronger comeback from last year's drought and reduced corn and soybean yields. "We were fortunate last year. We had a 140% increase in acres treated over 2011. This year, commodity prices remain fairly strong and we are forecasting a 200% increase over 2012. Even with last year's drought, it appears that farmers are still in a good position to make strong investments into their crops this year. Many of them had crop insurance and they're preparing for another big season. It is our job as a retailer and custom aerial applicator to get growers more bushels. Outstanding service and custom application has always been the main pillar of our organization and Air Tractor's 802 helps us deliver that to our growers!"
(Image provided by Air Tractor)