Half a Century of Excellence: Inside Air Tractor’s Founder’s Day Celebration

Olney, TX — Air Tractor marked its 50th anniversary with a Founder’s Day event held at the company headquarters. This occasion brought together employees, Air Tractor dealers, partners, vendors, and local dignitaries to celebrate the company’s legacy and achievements.

The event was a testament to Air Tractor’s rich history and continued commitment to excellence. More than 400 people attended the event. Among the highlights for many Air Tractor enthusiasts were two historical airplanes on display: AT-300-0002, which founder Leland Snow test flew on his birthday on May 31, 1974, and the 25th Snow Aeronautical Snow S-2, built in 1959. Not only did they represent Air Tractor’s signature purpose-driven engineering, but they stood as symbols of Air Tractor’s roots.

Pictured: AT-300-0002 on display and tables set up near the stage.
Pictured: Snow Aeronautical Snow S-2, the 25th plane off the line and built in 1959.

Besides good food and fellowship, guests enjoyed video presentations and photo montages, bringing back memories from the early days. One video recounted milestones that defined each decade of the company’s 50-year journey. An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) video celebrated Air Tractor employees and highlighted the company’s commitment to its employee-owners and how employee ownership has contributed to Air Tractor’s success.

A series of speeches from key figures within the Air Tractor family punctuated the evening’s celebration. Kristin Edwards, Leland Snow’s oldest daughter, opened the ceremony with a warm welcome, setting the tone for the festivities. Air Tractor CFO Jeremy Prather contrasted the differences between today’s world and life in 1974. Jim Hirsch reflected on the company’s growth over his 32-year employment, recognizing and thanking the employees, vendors, dealers, and customers who have made it all possible.

Pictured: Kristin Edwards, Air Tractor Vice-President of Sales, greets friends, co-workers, business partners, and family to kick off the festivities.
Pictured: Jeremy Prather, Air Tractor’s CFO, provides context for the evening with a speech about how life and business have changed since the 1970s.

Jason Wilcox, son of Mike Wilcox, one of the owners of Burke Flying Service who bought the first Air Tractor, shared personal anecdotes from his childhood, reminiscing about his father’s spray operation and watching the growth of their Air Tractor fleet. 

Gilles Ouimet, former President of Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), spoke of the enduring partnership between Air Tractor and PWC, underscoring the mutual respect and collaboration that have driven both companies forward.  Sales Coordinator Chris Lockhart followed, emphasizing the dedication of Air Tractor employees, highlighting their long tenures and vital role in the company’s long-term success.

Picture: Jason Wilcox, speaking about his family’s part in the delivery of the first Air Tractor.
Pictured: Gilles Ouimet, sharing stories about the early days and the business relationship.

The presentations concluded with Director of Engineering Kyle Schroeder, who took a moment to appreciate Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch, whose leadership has helped Air Tractor reach new levels of production and sales while not losing sight of Leland Snow’s vision. 

After sunset, the festivities concluded with a spectacular fireworks display above an assemblage of Air Tractor aircraft. Symbolizing Air Tractor’s bright future ahead, it was a perfect ending to a great day.

The Founder’s Day event was a fitting tribute to Air Tractor’s legacy, celebrating its 50 years of achievements. However, the celebrations do not end here. The company has planned a series of events and activities that will continue throughout the end of the year.

As Air Tractor looks forward to the next 50 years, it remains committed to pushing the boundaries of excellence in the aviation industry. With the support of its dedicated employees, partners, and community, the sky is truly the limit for Air Tractor.