Five ag pilots were recently recognized for exemplary environmental stewardship. Selected pilots were ranked highest among their peers based on criteria established through the A.C.E. (Applicators Conserving the Environment) Pilot Program. Those pilots selected for recognition are Mooney Easely, Planter's Air Service, Alligator, Miss.; Charles Travis II, Cottonwing Air, Indianola, Miss.; Billy Ray Kent, Snow Brake Air Service, Webb, Miss.; Paul Riddell, A&L Farm Service, Helena, Ark.; and Gordon Boozer, Ag Air Scott, Miss.

“Many pilots take additional, voluntary steps to ensure that they have no environmental impact,” said Glenn Holloway of Holloway Air Service in Drew, Miss., and past-president of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association. “The A.C.E. Pilot Program now affords us the opportunity to identify the best pilots among us in their efforts to protect our natural resources.”

The A.C.E. Pilot Program was developed to recognize top environmental stewards in the ag aviation industry and to encourage others pilots to become better stewards.

Organizations involved in developing and administering the program included CropLife America, Delta Council, Delta F.A.R.M., Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, Mississippi Ag Industry Council, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Monsanto, Southern Crop Protection Association, Syngenta, USDA Agricultural Research Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

All licensed aerial applicator in Mississippi who were members of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association in 2008 and had no proven drift violations within the past 24 months were eligible to participate in the A.C.E. Pilot Program. Each participant completed a questionnaire that documented experience, track record, and voluntary environmental stewardship efforts.

Mark Kimmel, president of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, presented each A.C.E. Pilot with a plaque and a cash award for $1,500 at the recent Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association annual meeting in Philadelphia, Miss. Each pilot will also receive a sign for his place of business, recognizing his achievement.