A Little History on Delta Airlines, Crop Dusting and Aerial Firefighting

The Signifigance of Crop Dusting and Delta Airlines



"The nation’s number four airline started life dusting crops. In the 1920s, Huff Daland Duster company became the first company – as opposed to individuals – founded to apply pesticides through the air. They were based in Monroe Louisiana and serviced cotton farmers in the Mississippi Delta.
Dusting is a seasonal business, so the owners went looking for other markets for their services. They found them in South America dusting crops where the seasons are reversed. Then, in 1927, they diversified when they got a contract to carry mail between Peru and Ecuador, over the massive Andes Mountains.

A year later, the company sold its dusting service and renamed itself Delta Air Service. In 1929, it started passenger service between Dallas, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, via Shreveport and their old home of Monroe, Louisiana.

In 1940, Delta introduced their first “stewardesses” in the cabins of the planes to improve customer service. In 1941 – just as the war was starting – Delta moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Operations during the war were slowed while many of their pilots and crew members joined the military. After the war, they pioneered the use of a “hub and spoke” system of travel. In 1959, they became the first airline to enter the jet age when they bought their first Douglas DC-8. Over the succeeding decades, Delta has acquired several other airlines, including the former industry giant Pan American." -Bill Ganzel

What is crop dusting you might ask…

As mentioned above, crop dusting gained notoriety in the 1920’s. Farmers needed an effective and efficient way to control both insects and weeds. This led to aerial crop dusting which is used throughout the world to this day. The industry has come along way since its inception utilizing a Curtis Jenny to what is used today which would be Air Tractor Inc AT502B - AT 802, Grumman Ag Cat, Rockwell Thrush Commander, Piper PA-36 Pawnee Brave, M-18 Dromader and numerous others.

Other roles from aerial aircraft

Many agricultural aircraft fulfill other duties such as forest fire, wildfire and bushfire assistance. I worked hand in hand with a local private contractor that was hired by the New Jersey State Division of Forestry during our peak forest fire seasons fulfilling the task of communicating with the pilot and fire tower centralizing the location of fire, coordinating target hazards and refilling the aircraft in between operations. I also was fortunate enough to get clipped by a few drops from their tanks in my days of fighting the wildland fires. These pilots would rub their tires against trees and perform some elegant and adrenaline inducing maneuvers.

Some cool videos of aero crop service and aerial firefighting ops :

Topic Credits

Wessels Farm- York, Nebraska
NJ Forest Fire Service

Just wanted to share some info as my region of the US kicks off another wildfire season so I decided to some research. Thanks for having a look. Be safe out there friends!

Wow. Very interesting.
I did not know that Delta started by crop dusting.

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This is great. I personally love delta but who knew delta started from crop dusting

Never knew that myself either, guess you really do learn something new every day.

Never knew about Delta’s exact origins. I thought they started as an air mail or air freight company (I remember one of USA’s major airlines started that way).

EDIT: The airline that started as an air mail company was United

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