Air Reserve comes to spray for mosquitoes in western North Dakota

Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 5:43 PM CDT
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If you live in the Minot area you might have seen a large aircraft flying low over the city.

That was a C-130 from the 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Ohio.

They are here to conduct an aerial spray to minimize the mosquitoes in our area. The crew flies at night with the use of night vision goggles. They do this to target the Asian Tiger mosquito that carries the West Nile virus. The spray attaches to the hair on the mosquito's leg which is how they eliminate the pests.

Flying an aircraft that sprays for mosquitoes is much more technical than one might think.

"We do have very sensitive GPS tracking equipment on board which helps us keep on track where we need to be. So our GPS system is accurate down to the foot. We try to maintain that margin of error which takes a lot of concentration and it takes a lot of people on board to make that happen,” says Maj. Jonathan Blackann, aircraft commander.

On board, there are two pilots, two navigators, two spray operators and a flight engineer.

Lt. Col. Jeff Shaffer, one of the navigators, decides when to spray.

"This system over here is what I am actually looking at when I am spraying. So I have two, this is the primary here and this is our repeater. As the navigator I am running this system. The pilots sitting in these seats will be looking at the light bars up front, sitting right here, they will be able to tell them if they are left or right of course based on the dots on the light bars,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Shaffer the Senior Navigator.

The aircraft is specially equipped for this type of mission.

"Inside the airplane we have a large system that slides right in and it locks into our cargo system. The yellow boom that hang out the side that is where the product actually comes out of the aircraft,” said Maj. Jonathan Blackann.

The product sprayed is Naled, which Shaffer says is dispersed in very small amounts; half an ounce covers an entire football field.

"We don't want to over spray, we don't want to under spray, so our scientist behind the scenes, our entomologist come up with a flow rate, how many gallons we are going to load. If we are going to spray 5,000 acres we should run out of chemical at the end of those 5,000 acres,” said Shaffer.

Ensuring the crew is precise while ridding the Magic City of mosquitoes.