David Songer of Swing Wing Aviation grew up in a family of farmers and bankers. His father was an Ag pilot who primarily used helicopters for spraying.
Dave's passions have always been farming and flying, so it came as no surprise when he took on the aviation portion of the family business in 2008 and decided to expand the operation. This required Dave to get two things: a pilot's license and an aircraft, but not necessarily in that order! Dave bought his first aircraft, a Thrush, in 2008 and earned his pilot's license in 2009.
Dave's business is rooted in Indiana, where the Ag industry has been strong over the last several years. Anticipating a growing demand, Dave elected to expand his Thrush fleet. He became the proud owner of a brand new GE H80-powered Thrush 510G, after flying his new aircraft from the recent Thrush Certification celebration in Albany, Ga. to his home in Indiana. Dave's decision to purchase a GE-powered aircraft was based not only on the increased all-around performance of the H80, but also on his trust in the GE brand and reputation. As a new entrant in the Ag market, Dave trusted that GE would stand behind the engine and provide the world-class support he wanted.
Dave needed a reliable and efficient aircraft to power him through the fairly short, but very intense Ag season. Flying typically begins in May, but the core season is July through August for fungicides, with additional flying in September and October for top-cover aerial seeding. During that time the goal is to be "wheels-up" by 6:30 a.m. and fly until dusk at about 9:30pm, averaging about 10 hours of low-altitude, high-concentration flying per day, and more than 300 hours in a typical season. There are few breaks - lunch is typically in the cockpit in the five to seven minutes it takes to reload. The flight cycle typically includes about one take-off per hour, then spraying at 150 mph (in the faster GE-powered Thrush), at ultra-low altitudes of approximately 15 feet. The only weather limitations are excessive winds, and of course pop-up thunderstorms. Dave's wife also supports the business by mapping drop-zones and preparing logistics for the remote locations. Fuel and payload have to be immediately available after each landing at the various grass strips around Indiana.
Though the days are often long and intense, Dave feels he has achieved the perfect vocation. Running his own crop-dusting company allows Dave to combine his dream of being his own boss with his passion for flying and farming. Dave brings his expertise and passion to his service on the NAAA board. Naturally, he plans to be at the NAAA annual convention in Reno in December. Meet Dave and the GE team there!