Movers & Shakers: Tyson and Cally of Ag Aviation Adventures
Tyson and Cally of Ag Aviation Adventures are not your average young ag professionals.
During the growing season, you’ll find them based in Minnesota as they work with farmers and co-ops for all their crop-dusting needs. But in the offseason, you can expect them to disappear to the mountains (or somewhere warm!) to get their adventure fix.
Magnetic got a quick Q&A chat with the adventure-loving couple last month:
Magnetic: How did you get into agriculture and aviation?
Tyson knew he wanted a career in aviation but had no desire to go into the airlines. While in college, he met a fire-fighting pilot. He knew immediately that’s what he wanted to do and, in order to start banking time for that position, he pursued Ag Aviation. He’s now been an Ag Pilot for nearly 12 years with no plans to go into the fire-fighting industry.
After three years of long-distance during the growing season, I (Cally!) realized that I needed to work with him if we ever wanted to spend time together. We convinced the company that Tyson works for that they needed to hire both of us, and we haven’t looked back since. I manage the ground operation and keep Tyson in the air.
What’s a fun fact about the work you do that most folks wouldn’t know?
Most people don’t realize that Ag Pilots only fly 5-10 feet above the crop canopy at 150 mph (with a turbine aircraft).
Favorite part of your lifestyle? Living part-time in Colorado and part-time in the Midwest?
Working hard in an industry that we love and then playing harder in the offseason. It’s also incredibly rewarding to share what we do with the world and hopefully enlighten those who are less connected to agriculture more about the industry.
What’s a recent new adventure you’ve been on?
We recently took up kiteboarding. We traveled to Southern Baja, Mexico, to learn and found an amazing community of people who spend most of the winter participating in wind sports on the Sea of Cortez. We’ve made amazing friends, and it’s pretty fun to be immersed in a different culture for 6 weeks of the year. And also, tacos.
Plus, kiteboarding is super humbling. The other day I saw a statement that really resonated with me from that experience, essentially that “sucking at something is the first step at being sort of good at something.”
You guys are on the road a ton – what’s a favorite podcast you tune into while crisscrossing the country?
The BiggerPockets Business Podcast is both entertaining and educational. The hosts talk to entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses, and it’s fun to hear people’s stories and also super inspirational to hear the turbulent journeys into business ownership.
We’re also big fans of the Farm Traveler Podcast. It’s super informative, and the guests are always well-educated experts in agriculture.
If you weren’t flying today, what do you think you’d both be doing?
Tyson: We’ve talked about trying to build a couple of houses in the case that I stopped flying. Real estate is booming in our town right now, but there is a bit of a contractor shortage. It’d be fun to try!
Cally: If we weren’t working at an aerial application company, I would continue educating and informing about agriculture and build a career around that.
Drone companies are left, right, and center in agriculture – some now with spraying capabilities. What are your thoughts on if those replace or complement traditional crop dusting?
We get this question a lot. We’re not sure of the timeframe, but we think that maybe eventually, drones will be applying chemicals at an effective and efficient rate. Maybe 2 years, maybe 20.
There are a lot of things to consider when it’s marketed that drones can spray. For instance, chemical labeling and approval, application rates, amount of time it takes to spray a certain amount of acres (on good days, we can spray 2,000-2,500 acres with an Air Tractor 502), spray pattern, etc. We won’t say that it won’t happen, but we believe there is still a lot of work to do for drones to replace an Ag Pilot entirely.