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Novak wins state crop dusting award

FERRIDAY — Natchez native Casey Novak always knew he wanted to fly a plane when he got older.

Novak achieved that dream in 2003 by flying a crop duster for local companies in the Miss-Lou and has been working hard to do the best job he can ever since.

Novak recently received recognition when he took home an Applicators Conserving the Environment Award at the Mississippi Agricultural Aviators Association meeting for his work as an agriculture pilot at Ferriday Flying Service.

Novak was one of six pilots at the MAAA meeting that showcased exemplary environmental stewardship during the 2010 crop season.

The A.C.E Pilot Program was developed to recognize environmental stewards in the agriculture flying industry and to give other pilots incentives for being more environmentally friendly when spraying crops.

Novak said he was surprised to be honored for his work flying a crop duster.

“It is not very often that we get recognition,” he said. “We provide a service to the farming community that is invaluable, and most people go through their daily lives never knowing the process of how their food got on their plate.”

Novak said in order to receive the award, pilots have to fly for two years with no drift claim.

“A drift claim is an off target spraying of a herbicide,” he said. “They take the pilots who have had two years with no claims, and then they decide which one is the most qualified to win the award.”

With eight years of flying experience under his belt, Novak said being an agricultural aviator is a tough job.

“Whenever we are in our peak season, we are up before daylight and we don’t get home until after dark,” he said. “It is a very labor intensive job that takes up a lot of your time.”

Novak said he enjoys working close to home, and has always managed to stay close working with companies in Monterey and other surrounding areas since he started flying in 2003.

Novak has been with Ferriday Flying Services since 2009, and said he is proud to work for a company that does such excellent work.

“Our range of customers goes from Waterproof to Adams and Wilkinson counties,” he said. “We do everything from killing insects and vegetation to fertilizing.”

Novak said he and his 502 Single Air Tractor typically spray soybean, rice, corn, cotton and some milo crops throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.

Novak said his love of aviation has been around since before he can remember, and he will continue his award winning efforts for as long as he can.

“I have just have always had a love of flying and wanted to do it for a living,” he said. “There is just something about it.”

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