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3rd of August 1920

It was on this day in aviation history that the first crop-dusting flight was performed. Lt. John A. Macready flew a modified Curtiss JN4 'Jenny' over a field invested with catalpa sphinx caterpillars near the town of Troy, Ohio, USA.

He sprayed the field with Lead-Arsenate, which was used as an insecticide until it was replaced by DDT.

Lt. Macready (r) and engineer E. Dormoy (l) in front of the 1st crop duster airplane.


The first test was considered a great success and after further testing and development commercial crop-dusting began in Macon, Georgia (USA) in 1924 when Huff-Daland Crop Dusting was founded by a former test pilot, Lt. Harold R. Harris. Crop Dusting as a name comes from the early days of crop spraying when the dry product was discharged from the aircraft and formed a cloud of dust covering over the crops. Although now liquids are used nowadays, the term stuck, and it is still called crop dusting.


Lt. John Arthur Macready (1887 - 1979) was a test pilot and record-breaking / record-setting pilot, who put several records to his name in the early days of aviation;

  • Altitude, early 1921, 34.509 ft (10.518 meters) and in September 1921, 40.800 feet (12.400 meters)

  • Transcontinental, 2nd & 3rd May 1923, from east coast to the west coast, non-stop in 26 hours, 5 minutes and 48 seconds covering 2625 miles (also a distance record

  • Repairing an aircraft engine inflight, on the Transcontinental record flight he replaced a voltage regulator on the engine of his Fokker T-2 Liberty monoplane.

  • Endurance, 4th & 5th of October 1922, non-stop flight of 35 hours 18 minutes and 30 seconds.

  • The first pilot to bail out of an aircraft at night, 13th of June 1924, his engine failed, relights failed so he trusted his parachute and landed safely (in a tree, requiring help to get down)

Besides record-breaking he also wrote the basic flight manual for students pilots, as used by the US military during the early years of aviation, it was called The All Thru System of Flying Instructions. It became the U.S. military's basic flight manual during


A 3 perspective drawing of a Curtiss JN-4B

The Curtis JN was built in huge numbers for pilot training during the first World War. Records indicate that 6813 were built since 1915. After wars end a huge surplus of aircraft entered civil aviation in all sorts of roles. The Curtiss JN series of aircraft consisted of more the 30 models, from the initial design and the 'standard' Curtiss JN-4 to several special models developed for special missions. The name 'Jenny' comes from the indication of the type Curtirs "JN"


Specifications of a Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny"

  • Crew: 2

  • Length: 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)

  • Wingspan: 43 ft 7.375 in (13.29373 m)

  • Height: 9 ft 10.625 in (3.01308 m)

  • Wing area: 352 sq ft (32.7 m2)

  • Airfoil: Eiffel 36[104]

  • Empty weight: 1,390 lb (630 kg)

  • Gross weight: 1,920 lb (871 kg)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss OX-5 V-8 air-cooled piston engine, 90 hp (67 kW)

  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller

  • Maximum speed: 75 mph (121 km/h, 65 kn)

  • Cruise speed: 60 mph (97 km/h, 52 kn)

  • Service ceiling: 6,500 ft (2,000 m)

  • Time to altitude: 2,000 ft (610 m) in 7 minutes 30 seconds

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