Category: Fixed-Wing Studies

Caleb Mason: ULA Graduate and Ag Pilot

Caleb Mason, Upper Limit Aviation graduate and current Agriculture Pilot (or Ag Pilot), recently shared an update regarding his commercial pilot journey – bringing us up to speed about what has transpired since he finished the ULA flight training program less than a year ago.

Ag Pilots fly specially-designed helicopters to apply herbicides, insecticides, seeds and fertilizers on crops, orchards, forests, fields, and swamps. Other applications include counting cattle and inspecting crops.

Caleb Mason is 33 years old, and has accumulated 550 of flight hours by flying for Ag Air, Inc., in Central California. Ag Air, Inc., is a fairly small Agriculture aerial applicator company, flying between 400hrs to 600hrs annually. Caleb shared his impression of his new job with Ag Air, “I love what i do, I love working with the growers and getting to know them and being able to help them continue to farm in the area.”

Caleb started our conversation by saying, “agricultural piloting is an interesting field, and I don’t have a wide spread grasp of the entire industry, but in my particular area, which is the San Joaquin and Stanislaus County, we work predominately with row crops, tomatoes, corn, beans, alfalfa, pumpkins and watermelons. We are also branching out to include walnuts and almonds orchards.”

Caleb’s Agriculture Career Journey Stated Well Before Flight School

Caleb stated that he got into Agriculture spraying because he knew the owner of Ag Air, Inc., prior to attending flight school. Caleb had actually started working in the agricultural industry prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps. In addition, during his flight school training in Salt Lake City, Caleb studied for the for the California’s aerial applicator license. Caleb used his network contact and previous work experience to plan out his career path before he earned a single pilot certificate.

While Mason was not flying or studying during flight training he found the time to pick up some work with Ag Air, Inc. as a “loader” (loading chemicals on to the helicopter tanks). It was during that time that Caleb received the training about chemicals, how they interact, their applications. More importantly, Mason learned how to work safely around helicopters.

When Mason left Upper Limit in December of 2014, he earned his commercial and instrument ratings, along with gaining experience with external load flying (300 flight hours). Caleb started full time employment with Ag Air right after he left Salt Lake City.

Due to the fact that Caleb had low flight hours, his boss came up with a training program in order to get the company’s insurance provider to cover him. Caleb stated that “An Ag Pilot from his area earns any where between $30,000 to $80,000 annually, depending upon experience and commission rates”.

Caleb’s Early Employment as an Ag Pilot

“At first, I could only ferry the helicopter to and from the job site. I couldn’t actually work as a crop duster. Next, I was to rinsing loads at the end of each job. At the end of every job we would run clean water through the spray system to rinse out any chemical residue that may damage the crops in the next job. While it seemed frustrating at the time, it helped me get used to taking off with a load, how to effectively perform Ag turns, and how to survey the fields for hazards such as wires, irrigation stand pipes, people in adjacent fields and other crop dusters in the area.”

Eventually, Caleb was ready to fly, “My boss and I would fly together – he would fly a load, and I would fly a load. That way he could double check how far off line I was and if I was able to get good coverage.”

“Before and after jobs we did a lot of training on how to lay a job out, what is the requirement from the farmer? I learned how many gallons per acre are we trying to achieve and the proper material required for each job. I learned all about the difference between coarse droplets and fine droplets and their proper use. I also learned about where to best set up the nurse truck and be efficient through the field.”

“By May I was flying jobs solo with oversight of our senior pilot, who would watch from the ground and then critique the job after we got back. There is a lot that goes into flying Ag applicators.”

How Caleb Stood Out Over Other Pilots

During flight school Caleb constructed a smart career plan. Caleb shared his method with us to pass along to current students, as Mason stated, “One of the things that I did to make myself more appealing to my boss was that I also got my A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) while i was going to flight school. So not only do I work as an Ag Pilot but I also do almost all of the maintenance.” Now that was smart!

Because of where Ag Air is located they are able to fly about 9 to 10 months of the year. They spray herbicide to kill weeds and pesticide to kill insects. In addition, Ag Air performs aerial fertilizing, seeding, cherry drying and frost control. Caleb went on to say, “An area we are getting more work from is the organic sector. There are 268 registered chemicals you can spray on organic produce and it is still considered organic. It is big business in California.”

Caleb’s Time in Salt Lake City, Utah at Upper Limit Aviation

“There are a lot of nice things about Utah. I got big into rock climbing when I was there and was spoiled with being so close to all the fantastic spots that were only minutes away. I also really enjoyed all of the instructors I worked with at ULA. From Matt Tanzer, who was my private pilot instructor, to Chelsea Tugaw, Chad Stevens, Kevin Horn and many more. These people brought fort. In addition, ULA was very helpful when I was looking to move to Salt Lake City when I first got out of the Marine Corps.”

Caleb has a job that he loves, working with people he likes, and has a clear vision of his future. We congratulate Caleb on a job well done, and wish him continued success as he advances his pilot career.

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Crosswind Landing: Learning The Basics in Small Aircraft

Crosswind conditions increase the risk of the landing, and as a student pilot, it is imperative that you become very comfortable with a crosswind landing. You never know when the wind will become greater than expected, and you need to be prepared for all circumstances.

“A crosswind landing is a landing maneuver in which a significant component of the prevailing wind is perpendicular to the runway center line.”

As a student pilot, crosswind landings are very important to learn, so do not avoid crosswinds landings. A good instructor will take advantage of crosswind conditions to teach his or her student the proper techniques. Practice makes perfect, therefore as a student your instructor should be looking for opportunities to train you in the techniques of crosswind landings. There is no other way to become comfortable than to make landings in crosswinds.

“A crosswind landing starts with proper alignment of the aircraft with the runaway.”

As the aircraft approaches the ground, the pilot should be prepared to make needed corrections (alignment with the runway) depending upon the strength of the opposing winds.

There are two ways to perform crosswind landings. The first technique is the “crab landing”. Crabbing is a technique used to head the nose of the aircraft into the wind while keeping the track of the aircraft aligned with the runway. During the crab, the heading of the aircraft will not be aligned with the runway (aircraft nose will point into the wind), but the direction of the aircraft will be in alignment with the runway.

A quick strong force (side-load) imposed on the landing gear during a crosswind landing could cause damage to the landing gear and result in the loss of the control of the aircraft. It is not wise to land (touch down) the aircraft sideways (pointing into the wind while tracking with the runway) without landing gear capable of pivoting to align with the runway.

Therefore it is necessary for the pilot to align the aircraft with the direction of runway (landing the plane in straight alignment with the runway) prior to touchdown.

The other popular crosswind landing method is the “slip”, which requires greater skill compared to the crab. During a slip the pilot uses the rudder, to align the nose of the aircraft with the center of the runway, and using the aileron to correct the airplane’s drift to align with the runway center line.

The amount of aileron and rudder required will be dependent upon the strength and change of the wind. There could be a lot of adjustments as you approach touchdown. After landing the student pilot will continue to use the ailerons into the wind and keep working the rudders to maintain a straight track down the runway.

Light Aircraft in Strong Crosswind Landings HD

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Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk Is a high wing, single-engine aircraft that seats four. The first 172 was flown in 1955. More Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft. The Cessna 172 is considered the most successful aircraft in history. as of 2012 more than 60,000 172s have been produced. the Cessna 172 is Typically powered by 1 × Lycoming IO-360-L2A four cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine, 160 hp. The 172 has a range of 881 Miles.

With more than 43,000 aircraft made, the Skyhawk is the best-selling, most-flown plane ever built. It also enjoys a distinguished reputation as the safest general aviation aircraft available. The Skyhawk is a top performer, showcasing the agility, stability, and durable strength that Cessna is famous for.

Range, payload, and versatility that you’d expect from a larger aircraft. Ergonomics that keep a pilot alert and focused for the duration of a long flight. Advanced avionics technology (glass cockpit with Garmin navigation) for ease of operation and enhanced safety.

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Cessna 182 Skylane

The Cessna 182 Skylane is a single piston engine, 4 seat airplane. The 182 was first introduced by Cessna in 1956 and since that time, has had a variety of additional models and variants released. The 182 is Cessna’s second most popular airplane model after the 172. Starting in 1978 and going until 1986, a retractable gear Skylane was offered with and without turbocharging engines. The 182 is typically powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 230 hp (172 kW) engine and a 3-bladed constant speed propeller. The top speed of the 182 is 173 mph.

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Looking for Airplane Pilot Careers?

Upper Limit Aviation (ULA) is a professional flight school for student pilots aspiring to launch their airplane pilot careers. Deciding on a career as a commercial pilot is a life-changing decision.  Do you dream of flying for a living?  Do you enjoy traveling and realtime adventure?  If you are exploring the possibilities of a professional pilot career or simply want to earn your Private Pilot’s License, ULA is the place to start your journey.

A twin engine aircraft that a pilot might fly in many airplane pilot careers.

As per the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, the number of jobs for airline and commercial pilots is expected to grow by 11% per year. (www.bls.gov). Globally, aviation is experiencing significant growth with over 8.3 million people working directly in the aviation industry.

Upper Limit Aviation is More Than a Flight School – We Launch People into Careers

There are two powerful reasons why today is the right time for you to pursue fixed wing piloting career.  One, there are employers looking for experienced well-trained pilots. Good pilots are in demand worldwide.  Two, flying airplanes for a living is your lifelong dream.  It is your passion. You know in your heart that flying airplanes is what you were born to do.  What are you waiting for?  The obstacles, to becoming a commercial pilot, will not go away. Let us help you find a way to navigate through the obstacles and find the way to fulfilling your dream. Upper Limit Aviation is one of the top flight training programs in the US.  For more information about flight school training call 844-iFLYEDU today!

Fixed-wing careers with annual salaries ranging from $22,000 to $200,000
  • CFI
  • Airline
  • Charter
  • Corporate
  • Medical Evacuation
  • Cargo Transport
  • Movies and Film
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement (Local/Hwy PD, CIA, FBI)
  • FAA
  • Tours and Sight Seeing
  • Oil and Gas Industry Transport
  • USFS – BLM Transportation – Firefighting, Game Control, Capture and Count
  • Environmental Projects
  • Reclamation Projects
  • Agricultural Pilot / Crop Dusting
  • Alaskan Bush Pilot
  • Sky Diving Pilot
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (801) 596-7722.

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