Biographical / Historical
Tri-Rotor Spray & Chemical, a division of J & L Smith Farms, is a crop spraying business run by Larry Smith based in Ulysses, Kansas. Tri-Rotor was started with the purchase of a Hughes 269A in 1978 as a way to get crop spraying on Smith Farms done in a timely manner. That first year a neighbor came by and said, "It looks good, could you do mine?" and so started Tri-Rotor's expansion. In 1979, Tri-Rotor purchased a Hughes 300-C that they kept for four years, during which time they sprayed between 7000 to 12000 acres a year. In 1982, they bought a Hiller H-23E, and started to enlarge their fleet in response to demand, buying two additional Hiller H-23Es and one spray coupe ground rig. In 1988, they sold one of the Hillers and purchased a Bell 204B. After a fatal accident in the Bell during May of 1989, Tri-Rotor switched to turbine airplane spraying and bought their first Air Tractor AT-400. Currently Tri-Rotor has three Air Tractors AT-402s and one AT-602, one Ayres Corporation 660 Turbo-Thrush, one Bell OH-58 Kiowa, one Hiller 12E Soloy, one Hiller H-23E (Model 12E), and four ground rig machines. They spray in Texas and Kansas, and have a business in Arizona where they spray predominately lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cotton and alfalfa. In Arizona, Tri-Rotor also sprays for mosquito control and noxious weed control for the State. They are preparing to be involved in tamarisk control on the major watersheds to increase and improve ground water and to be involved in fire fighting with the US Forest Service. Currently Tri-Rotor employs 50 personnel and sprays approximately 450,000 acres per year. They also sell chemicals directly to farmers.