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TAL: The First Aviation Conglomerate

Air Activities, Inc

In 1952, under the direction of Duane R. Strand, Air Activities fulfilled contracts with the U.S. State Department to spray 1,000 square miles of agricultural land in twelve Middle East countries. That year, the TAL subsidiary was asked by the Technical Cooperation Administration of the State Department to mobilize a group of American pilots to bring a speedy halt to one of the worst locust plagues the Middle East had ever experienced. From nine to twenty aircraft were used in spraying operations between 1952 and 1955.

As in biblical times, the locusts moved with devastating speed and were swarming unchecked through Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. In a counterattack, Air Activities' pilots positioned their aircraft ahead of the locusts so as to encircle the charging pests, spraying insecticide on billions of the insects and their breeding grounds. The successful operation restored more than 672,000 acres of food producing land to the farmers of the Middle East. The natives regarded the duster pilots as "miracle men of the sky" and traveled miles to watch them in action.


Air Activities crop dusting aircraft spraying locusts in the Middle East

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