Display Status This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

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.



Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Patti Williams, 2019.


Smith, Larry


bulk 1970s-2003


Larry Smith, Gift, 2004


0.18 Cubic feet ((1 slim letter box))


This collection consists of 82 scanned photographs and four DVDs relating to Tri-Rotor Spray & Chemical's aircraft and operations.


No restrictions on access.


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Digital images

Digital versatile discs

Arrangement note

Arranged by type of media.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 82 scanned photographs and four DVDs relating to Tri-Rotor Spray & Chemical's aircraft and operations. The scans of the photographs were produced by the National Air and Space Museum's Archives Division, from originals lent by, and returned to, Mr. Larry Smith. The DVDs were made from four VHS-C format tapes of crop spraying runs also lent, and returned, to Mr. Smith. The following aircraft are represented: Bell UH-1B; Air Tractor AT-400A and AT-602; Hughes 269C; Hiller UH-12E; Ayres Corp. S2R-G6 and 660 (S2R-T660); Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee; Cessna 340A; and Weatherly Aviation Co. 620A.



Digital images

Digital versatile discs


Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests


Tri-Rotor Spray & Chemical

Topics Aeronautics
Aerial spraying and dusting in agriculture
Piper PA-25 Pawnee Family
Bell UH-1B (HU-1B) Iroquois (Huey)
Air Tractor AT-400
Air Tractor AT-602
Hughes 269 Family
Ayres Corp Turbo-Thrush S2R
Ayres Corp 660 Turbo-Thrush
Cessna 340


Tri-Rotor Spray & Chemical Photography Collection, NASM.2004.0023, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

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