Idaho's Oldest Crop-Duster Retires

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After 43 years and 150,000 takeoffs and landings (!), 74-year-old crop-duster Don Taylor says it's time to take on some milder pursuitsólike skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving and the little aerobatic aircraft he's building. "If it was just up to me, I'd still be up there," Taylor told the Idaho Statesman as he reflected on one of the longest crop-dusting careers ever recorded. "Flying has always been a miracle to me."

The Statesman did some digging on this story and found that a career crop-duster has a one-in-three chance of dying on the job. Taylor told the newspaper that ego is the biggest determining factor in pilot survival. "You have to realize your limitations," he said. "The most dangerous thing is an ego. People with big egos think they can break the rules. You can't." With that kind of experience, close calls are inevitable and Taylor has had his share, but they've never shaken the grip crop-dusting holds on him. "To me it's a miracle," he said. "I have the feeling that flying a crop duster is like being a cellist; it's an extension of your physical and mental abilities. It's so graceful. I'm going to miss that."