Monday, February 16, 2015

Special Report: Fearless Pilots - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Three generations of a South Georgia family are proud crop dusters. The Andrews Family has more than 128 years of combined experience in the cockpits of agriculture airplanes.

South Georgians see crop dusters at work all the time, but being in the air with them is amazing. The planes fly at 130 miles per hour, about four feet off of the ground.

Bruce Andrews took the controls of one of Bruce's Flying Service crop dusters to show what it's like.

"They watch you for the crash. They thinking you are going to crash most of the time," he said.

Fred Andrews started crop dusting in 1957, beginning this family flying tradition. Sons Eddie and Bruce followed in his footsteps, and now Bruce's son Patrick is in the cockpit.

"We always been a close-knit family, and always work real close together," Andrews said.

They say piloting has better benefits than most jobs.

"It's just getting up and you can see different things," explained Eddie Andrews.

"I started mixing when I was very young, and been around airplanes pretty much all my life," Patrick Andrews said.

Technology like GPS computer controlled spraying and turbine engines have made crop dusters more efficient over the years, but the pilots still have to fly close to the ground.

"You [sometimes] run into a wire or hit a tree or something like that. Bump the ground. Those things happen," cautioned Bruce Andrews.

But the Andrews family will carry on crop dusting across the country.

The Andrews Family plans to spray 11 months of 2015. They will be in Pennsylvania for the month of May to spray against moths. Then they will head to Nebraska and North Dakota for corn crops. After that, it's back to South Georgia for peanuts.

Fred has crashed eight planes in his career, but after 56 years he says this may be the season to stay grounded.

"Unless the bugs are biting real bad, I'm just going to watch them," he said.

Story, photo gallery and video:

Fred Andrews

Bruce Andrews

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