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Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
February 9, 2023
Air Tractor Releases New Turn Smart Video on YouTube

Turn Smart: Respect the Safety Margin, Air Tractor’s new safety video, is now available to watch on YouTube. You can also watch it below.



Air Tractor’s new Turn Smart video debuted at the 2022 NAAREF Safety Session. The video features a combination of interviews, stunning animation and flying demonstrations in an effort to educate ag aviators on how to conduct an ag turnaround safely.

Kyle Schroeder, an Air Tractor engineer, introduces the video by providing information on the lethality of stall/spin accidents that result from improperly turning an aircraft. He’s followed by Mike Rhodes, Air Tractor’s former chief test pilot, who introduces Steve Gustafson, an ag pilot from Louisiana and an AeroShell Aerobatic Team pilot.

Gustafson describes what a safe ag turn looks and feels like. The maneuver must be planned, and you should preserve a margin of safety for when the unexpected happens. Gustafson also talks about the dangers of uncoordinated flight and the misuse of rudder while making ag turns. To assist with his description, animation is displayed to help pilots understand what can happen when turns are uncoordinated. Rhodes and Gustafson then discuss the change in an aircraft’s center of gravity as the contents of the hopper are applied and the need to be a smooth and steady pilot.

To emphasize the importance of maintaining a margin of safety, Turn Smart turns to Mike Mullane, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former NASA space shuttle astronaut, to discuss normalization of deviance. Normalization of deviance occurs when you are operating under pressure to complete a task, which causes you to consider using a shortcut that is less safe than the normal procedure to save time. If you survive, you will be more likely to take the shortcut the next time you’re under pressure. Over time, the deviation from safety becomes your new normal.

Later, Rhodes joins Gustafson in his T-6 for some flying examples of what happens when a turn is done incorrectly, causing a stall spin.

The video closes with some key points:

  • Beware of overly aggressive turns.
  • Back off 10%. Maintain your safety margin.
  • A wing at zero-G cannot stall.
  • Stay vigilant for “normalization of deviance.”
  • Practice slow flight, stalls and recoveries.
  • Coordinated use of flight controls in every turn.
  • Pay attention to operating weight and CG shift.
  • Turn using no more than 10 degrees of flaps.
  • Choose the correct turnaround maneuver for the mission.
The new version of Turn Smart: Respect the Safety Margin is worth watching and rewatching as matter of recurrent training. The knowledge it imparts to ag pilots will undoubtedly save lives. NAAA and NAAREF thank Air Tractor for the time and resources it put into producing such a high-quality safety education video.


Be sure to watch Turn Smart so you can turn smart!

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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