|The radial engine powered Ayres S-2R Thrush|
|Role||Aerial application aircraft|
|Number built||less than 2,000|
The Ayres Thrush, formerly the Snow S-2, the Aero Commander Ag Commander and the Rockwell Thrush Commander, is an American low-wing agricultural aircraft produced by Ayres Corporation and more recently by Thrush Aircraft. It is one of the most successful and long-lived agricultural application aircraft types in the world, with almost 2,000 sold since the first example flew 58 years ago. Typical of agricultural aircraft, it is a single-seat monoplane of conventional taildragger configuration. Originally powered by a radial piston engine, most examples produced since the 1980s have been turboprop-powered.
Design and development
The Thrush was designed by Leland Snow and first flew in 1956, and before long was being produced in series as the S-2 by the company he founded, Snow Aeronautical. In 1965, the corporation and all its assets were purchased by the Aero Commander division of Rockwell, which put it into production alongside the CallAir A-9 that it had also acquired, branding both unrelated (though similar) machines as "Ag Commanders". When Rockwell dropped the Aero Commander brand, the S-2 was renamed the "Thrush Commander".
In 1977, Rockwell sold off the production rights to the aircraft and the production facility at Albany, Georgia, which were purchased by Ayres Corporation, a firm which had been built on retro-fitting turboprop engines to Thrush Commanders. On June 30, 2003, Ayres' assets were purchased by Thrush Aircraft, the current producer of the aircraft.
Ayres developed a special anti-narcotics crop-spraying version of the Turbo-Thrush for the United States Department of State. This version, known as the Narcotics Eradication Delivery System (NEDS) featured an armored cockpit and engine to protect against hostile ground fire. Nine were sold to the Department of State between 1983 and 1985. Ayres also attempted to market a militarized version as the Ayres Vigilante, intended for the Close Air Support role, but this failed to attract customers.
The S-2 and its several variants have been purchased by agricultural spraying operators in many countries. Large numbers are operated in the United States and Australia. Other countries using the type include Costa Rica, France, Guyana, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
(per Simpson, 2005, p. 39)
- initial prototype with open cockpit.
- pre-production version of S-1 - three built.
- initial production version, powered by Continental engine – 73 built.
- S-2 powered by 450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 – 19 built.
- refined production version – 214 built.
- S-2C re-engined with Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN1.
- 6,000 lb take-off weight – 105 built.
- S-2D Ag Commander
- Thrush Commander 600
- Thrush Commander 800
- powered by Wright R-1300.
- S2R-T Turbo Thrush
- Rockwell Thrush Commanders converted to turbine power by Marsh Aviation using Garrett AiResearch TPE331-1-101 engines.
- S-2R 1340
- equivalent to Thrush Commander 600.
- S-2R 1820
- Bull Thrush
- Pezetel Thrush
- powered by PZL-3.
- turboprop powered versions equipped with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A.
- Thrush Model 400
- Thrush Model 510
- General Electric H80 powered
- Thrush Model 550
- Thrush Model 660
Specifications (Thrush Commander 600)
Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77 
- Crew: 1
- Payload: 400 US Gal (1,514 L)
- Length: 29 ft 2 in (8.89 m)
- Wingspan: 44 ft 4 in (13.51 m)
- Height: 9 ft 2 in (2.79 m)
- Wing area: 326.6 sq ft (30.34 m²)
- Empty weight: 3,700 lb (1,678 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 6,900 lb (3,130 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 600 hp (448 kW)
- Propellers: Hamilton-Standard 12D40 2-blade metal constant speed propeller propeller, 1 per engine
- Maximum speed: 140 mph (122 knots, 225 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 124 mph (108 knots, 200 km/h) (70% power)
- Stall speed: 66 mph (57.5 knots, 107 km/h) flaps down
- Ferry range: 403 mi (350 nmi, 648 km)
- Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,575 m)
- Rate of climb: 900 ft/min (4.6 m/s)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Aero Boero 260AG
- Air Tractor AT-300
- Cessna 188
- Embraer EMB 202 Ipanema
- Grumman Ag Cat
- PAC Cresco
- PAC Fletcher
- PZL-106 Kruk
- Zlin Z-37 Cmelak
- Green, William. Aircraft Handbook. London. Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1964.
- Simpson, Rod. The General Aviation Handbook. Midland Publishing. 2005. ISBN 1-85780-222-5.
- Taylor, John W R. (editor). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1976. ISBN 0-354-00538-3.
- Taylor, John W R. (editor). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1988-89. Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group, 1988. ISBN 0-7106-0867-5.
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