If you’re in the South or Midwest, you’ve likely seen crop dusters making passes over fields many many times. But one Reddit user and some of the non-farming commenters were left thinking “What The F—” when an iconic yellow air tractor buzzed a rural home low and fast. So, of course, the video clip ended up on the 7 million-member r/WTF subreddit.
Yet despite the poster’s confusion over why a plane would be flying so low without an obvious reason and some people saying that they need to contact the Federal Aviation Administration, those observations were balanced by responses from people in the know about agricultural life — even if they were a little too on-the-nose about what it means to be a pilot in this industry.
One person noted, “That’s a crop duster. Their entire world is a wtf moment.”
Another said, “Crop duster. Those boys are crazy.”
Also, there was, “Just Ag pilot things. They’re built different.”
Felt this was a wtf moment
by u/SnowyGoddess in WTF
While a location for the video was not made clear, most people seemed to think it was taken in northern Indiana. Most of the concern from those unfamiliar with crop dusters is that the plane was flying under 500 feet, which, according to the FFA, is illegal in most cases. The exceptions include over open water or sparsely populated areas, and even then planes are supposed to stay away from structures and vessels. One Redditor who claimed to be a 9-1-1 dispatcher said it’s amazing how many calls they get from people who think that a crop duster is going to crash.
Yet that alone is not so crazy of a concept.
The data show that crop dusters in the U.S. crash about five times on average per month during working seasons while spraying things like herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides. As recently as over the weekend, a crop duster in Huron County, Michigan, crashed, with the pilot escaping uninjured.
Huron County: Caro Post Troopers are investigating a crop duster plane crash that occurred about noon 8/19 near Murdock & Caseville Rds. Thankfully, the pilot was not injured. The FAA & NTSB will assist with the investigation. Wisner Twp Fire assisted troopers on scene. pic.twitter.com/setUtnnjgx
— MSP Third District (@mspbayregion) August 19, 2023
The tactic of aerial spraying is just over 100 years old in the United States, and the National Agricultural Aviation Association estimates that pilots treat about 127 million acres of cropland in the U.S. annually, while also treating 7.9 million acres of pasture and rangeland.
With all of that land being treated, it’s almost surprising that more people don’t see crop dusters in action at least every once in a while. Yet, there is sadly a lot of truth to a comment that noted: “What the average member of the public knows about actual farming could fit on a postage stamp. A tiny one.”
And, just to end on a high note, we have to show that even the Peterson Farm Bros. have a big appreciation for all the work our crop-dusting colleagues do: