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HOLDREGE – At an airfield outside Dayton, Ohio, in 1921, CR Nellie, an entomologist with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, had the idea of controlling pests with an airplane.
When he pitched his idea, Nellie’s concept was met with skepticism. Eventually, a cooperative project was organized to test the idea of the Federal Aviation Experiment Station at McCook Field in Dayton.
After dusting a grove of catalpa, less than 1% of a destructive moth known as the Catalpa Sphinx remained, giving rise to the agricultural aviation industry.
A new temporary exhibit, “A Century of Agricultural Aviation: 1921-2021”, celebrates this event and continues to be displayed at the Nebraska Prairie Museum in Holdrege.
Developed in 2021 by the National Aerial Trades Association, the exhibit features five panels showcasing the detailed history of aviation from its raw beginnings in 1921 through each decade’s advancement to its current precision aerial applicators. Recognizing its importance, the Department of Homeland Security has identified aerial spraying work as one of 16 “essential critical infrastructure” protecting the nation’s food supply.
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In addition to the information panels, there is a Piper Pawnee cockpit fuselage for those who want to get a closer view.
The Nebraska Prairie Museum is located at 2701 N. Burlington St., north of Holdrege on Highway 183. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through sunday.
Admission is by donation. For more information, call 308-995-5015 or visit NebraskaPrairieMuseum.com.