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Ag Flying (crop dusting)

My Ag Flying Days with Pay’s Air Services

The FU24-954 (400HP)
Fletcher at "Rock Dhu",
in the snow, between
jobs, 1984 ‘VH-EOG’

Spreading superphosphate at
"Cooplacurripa", mid-1980s
(Dick Johnston, loader driver)

Approaching to land at
"Cooplacurripa" strip
(as at left)

Spreading superphosphate on
‘Bonnie Doon’, Timor, working off
Regis Murphy’s airstrip

 

Click here to read about Peter's experiences as an Ag pilot

Same Fletcher as at top of page
(though different paint scheme)
crashed while working off
‘Coogah’, east of Blandford,
16:03:1992. Pilot killed. I
likely have as many hours in
this aircraft as any that
I owned myself

While I consider the Ag Flying to have been my most enjoyable aviation,
there are some points worth pondering ...

There were good jobs and bad. There was good weather and bad.
Winds were our biggest worry, because of the heavy loads we carried.

There were days when no amount of money one earned was sufficient
for the fear you were facing, and there were days, and jobs, such a
delight that I often wondered if we shouldn’t be paying for the privilege
of doing the work.

There were mornings, when I walked out my back door, a half hour
before daylight, knowing what lay ahead of me that day, wondering
if I would walk back in that same door that night.

I kid you not ... such as it was

But there was never a day I considered NOT going

Ag Flying: Some historic shots

Edgar Percival E P 9 (Cheetah)
VH-FBZ at Rock Dhu, 1960.
Photo by PHN (aged 10)
with Brownie Box camera

Airfarm Associates' Percival
EP 9 Cheetah VH-SSX, and
Fletcher FU 24 taken at
Gresford, New South Wales
(image: O Martin, from the book
Aerial Agriculture in Australia
by Derrick Rolland)

VH-SSX was the third EP 9 to
work off our ag strip, in the
summer of early 1962. Super
was spread annually back
those days. On this third
occasion it was piloted by
Noel Hall, Ex WW2 RAAF.
It is he who I will be forever
indebted, that he would agree
to take me for a ride.
My first ride in an aeroplane.
I wish I could have located him
as the years went on to show
I wasn’t just another kid who
wanted a quick thrill and then
move on to something else
but I have never heard of his
whereabouts since.
Anyone know ... Noel Hall?
What became of him ... 

Noel Hall since been traced.
Died from cancer around early to
mid 2000’s at Hawks Nest, NSW. 

Anyone with further information
please contact us.

 

The Ranch Airstrip
(either 1958 or 1959)
Skyspread E P 9 VH-FBZ
Frank Yates (on right)
Edmund Wilson (on left)
Dozer belonged to "Bickham"
(photograph provided by
Ed Wilson April 1991)
This was a year or two prior
to my two photos (left) of
the same EP 9. This photo
shows the aircraft with the
Lycoming engine where
mine show it converted
to the Armstrong Siddeley
Cheetah radial

Click on this link for the
Northern Daily Leader
article on the
EP-9 VH-FBZ Walcha Air Crash

Apology for quality of article but this is the best their microfiche would allow. VH-FBZ was rebuilt and not long after crashed east of Blandford (NSW). The wreckage lay where it fell for years and when we made enquiries with the thought of recovering it, discovered it
was long gone.

Whoever has it, I hope it will be restored to fly again.

I would much like to know
its current whereabouts -
EP 9, VH-FBZ - anyone know?

PHN

Cessna 180s, Rock Dhu Ag
strip. Pay and Williamson
was the operator (later
became Pays Air Service).

Col Pay operating off
'Temi' ag strip (Ardglen)
mid 1960's

Cessna 180's VH-BBN and
VH-CXA (upside down).
Wheel brake locked up on
take-off (loaded). Same
aircraft as above

(Photo: courtesy J.W.)

Tiger Moth (Tamworth Airport)
converted for Ag work (fertilizer
spreading). Airfarm Associates
was the operator. Later, when
superceded, two of these were
advertised for sale at £180
each - and they were slow to
sell. Tiger Moths are worth
a fortune today.

Another of Pay’s earlier
aircraft ...
Singeton c. 1966/67