Air Tractor

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This article is about the aircraft manufacturer. For the converted aeroplane taken on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, see Air-tractor sledge. For the device to assist childbirth, see James Young Simpson.

Air Tractor Inc. is a United States aircraft manufacturer based in Olney, Texas. Leland Snow founded the company in 1978 in order to manufacture a new agricultural aircraft derived from the S-2B aircraft (designed by his previous company Snow Aeronautical). Designated Model AT-300 Air Tractor, the new aircraft first flew in 1973. In 2004 the 2000th Air Tractor aircraft was delivered.[1]

History[edit]

Leland Snow began designing his first airplane, the S-1, in 1951. The 23-year old Snow completed test flights with the S-1 in 1953. Snow’s S-1 flew dusting and spraying jobs in the Texas Rio Grande Valley and in Nicaragua until 1957. He followed-up the S-1 with the models S-2A and S-2B, which were built when Snow moved to production facilities in Olney, Texas in 1958.

In 1965, Leland Snow sold his company to Rockwell-Standard and was appointed a Vice President of the Aero Commander division. During this time, the Model S-2R was developed and named the Thrush. The first 100 Thrush aircraft were built at the Olney Division before the plant was closed and Thrush production moved to Georgia in 1970. More than 500 aircraft were produced under Snow Aeronautical Corporation and Rockwell-Standard in Olney.

Snow resigned from Rockwell and devoted the next two years designing the Air Tractor. Construction began in 1972 on the AT-300, which later became the AT-301. Air Tractor’s first turbine model, the AT-302, was introduced in 1977.

Sixteen years later, Air Tractor delivered its 1,100th airplane and soon began expanding the Olney plant for increased capacity. Today, Air Tractor produces a line of aircraft that includes 400, 500, 600 and 800-gallon capacity planes powered by Pratt & Whitney piston or turbine engines.

Products[edit]

Air Tractor AT-300
(1973) single-seat low-wing monoplane aerial application aircraft with single radial piston engine
Air Tractor AT-301
-300 variant with larger piston engine
Air Tractor AT-302
-300 variant with turboprop engine
Air Tractor AT-400
(1979) development of -300, revised for use of turboprop engine
Air Tractor AT-401
-400 variant with greater wingspan
Air Tractor AT-402
-401 variant with different turboprop engine
Air Tractor AT-501
(1986) development of -400 with larger fuselage and hopper, greater wingspan, and seat for an observer. Uses radial piston engine
Air Tractor AT-502
Single-seat version of -501
Air Tractor AT-502B
Introduced in 1987 [2]
Air Tractor AT-503
Development of -501 with turboprop engine
Air Tractor AT-503A
Dual-control trainer version of AT-503 with shorter AT-401 wings
Air Tractor AT-503T
Trainer variant of -503. Uses smaller wingspan
Air Tractor AT-504
Trainer
Air Tractor AT-602
(1995) Development of -503 with larger hopper and greater wingspan
Air Tractor AT-802
(1990) Development of -503 with larger hopper and greater wingspan, adapted for aerial firefighting.
Air Tractor AT-802U
Adapted for Surveillance and military operations.

Gallery[edit]

AT-802AF floatplane 
AT-602 on display 
2-seater AT-802 
Floatplane Fire-fighting Air Boss 
A COIN AT-802U at the Paris Air Show 
An AT-802 dropping a full load of fire suppressant 
Air Tractor AT-502B on the ramp at Belle Glade Airport, Florida as weather moves in off Lake Okechobee. The single-engine aircraft has a 52-foot wingspan, three wheels. It was first manufactured in 1987. 
Detail of the sprayer system attached to an Air tractor AT-502B aircraft. Image shows the sprayer system's air-driven pump. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Air Tractor website, accessed 07 Feb 2008
  2. ^ quoted on 4 June 2013 from the Air Tractor corporate website at: http://www.airtractor.com/aircraft/502b.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gunston, Bill (1993). World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. p. 20. 
  • Simpson, R. W. (1995). Airlife's General Aviation. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing. p. 31. 

External links[edit]