Agricultural aviation is the career path that involves spreading fertilizers, plant treatments and seeds from the air. But you may know it by another name – crop dusting.
“It’s long hours and it’s demanding, but that’s one reason it’s good for service members,” says retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shawn Woodman. “Not everybody wants a nine-to-five job clocking in and out at a certain time working indoors in an office.”
Woodman retired from the Army after 23 years of service this summer. Working as an agricultural aviator requires a pilot license and a variety of other professional certifications, which Woodman already had a jump on from his time in the Army.
But he started networking a year out from retirement, joining professional organizations and attending their meetings, and he found his current job with Kash Helicopter Services in Illinois through connections he made at those meetings.
“Joining a professional organization is one of the most important things you can do,” he said.
Workflow for agricultural aviators can vary from week to week or even day to day. Often, it depends on the weather, says Maj. Van Lucas, a pilot with the Iowa Air National Guard who flies for Agritech Aviation in Iowa. He transitioned into agricultural aviation after several years on active duty.
“The most rewarding thing is when a farmer is in trouble and can’t get an area treated because it’s been muddy or had issues, but we can come in and fix his problem within an hour,” Lucas says.
If you have an interview, make sure you read our article interviewing advice for military veterans.
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