Farewell to a Legend

Leland Snow, inventor of the first airplane designed especially for aerial application, dies at age of 80.

Published on: Mar 9, 2011

Agricultural aviation said farewell to an industry legend at the end of February.

Leland Snow, 80, founder and president of Air Tractor, and the inventor of the first aerial spray airplane built specifically for aerial application, died while jogging near his home in Texas on Feb. 20. A memorial service was held Feb. 26 at Air Tractor headquarters in Olney, Texas.

Snow was only 21 years old when he designed his first aerial spray airplane, the S-1 in 1951. The S-2A and S-2B models followed and he built the Olney factory in 1958.

He sold Snow Aeronautical to Rockwell-Standard in 1965 and for five years worked as vice-president of Rockwell's Aero Commander Division before leaving in 1970 and devoting the next two years to designing the AT 300/301 Air Tractor, derived from the S-2B.

Leland Snow, and president of Air Tractor, and the inventor of the first aerial spray airplane built specifically for aerial application, dies at age 80.
Leland Snow, and president of Air Tractor, and the inventor of the first aerial spray airplane built specifically for aerial application, dies at age 80.

He continued to work on bigger and better aerial spray planes, introducing the turbine-powered AT-302 in 1977 and the AT-802, the world's largest agricultural airplane, in 1991.

Snow transferred ownership of Air Tractor to its employees in 2008 through a stock ownership plan. That same year he finished his autobiography, "Putting Dreams to Flight."