If all goes according to plan, Central Ag Air, an ag spraying service and Marion’s newest business, could take flight as early as next week.
Owner and pilot Matt Orth said his goal is to open April 1.
“The building doesn’t even need to be up,” Orth said. “Once the concrete pad is ready, I can start spraying.”
Orth said the dirt pad for his hangar was finished over the weekend, and crews were scheduled to pour the concrete foundation Monday.
Before April 1, he also plans to transport his airplane and storage equipment from his current location at Ulysses near Garden City to his new base just north of Marion Municipal Airport.
Orth has serviced the Marion area for about the three years. With 11 years of crop spraying experience under his wings, Orth said he picked Marion as a base of operation because of its central location and the lack of aerial spraying service competition.
“He will not only service our county, but he will service seven other surrounding counties,” Marion City Administrator Roger Holter said. “He’ll be one of the only permanently based spraying services in Kansas.”
Eventually, Orth plans to service “all around the state.”
“It’s just me right now,” he said. “But if we get busy I will call another pilot for help.”
Before the city approved Orth’s business, Holter said the containers Orth will use for mixing chemicals had to be approved by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the EPA, and the aviation branch of Kansas Department of Transportation.
“He’s up to code on everything he needs to be,” Holter said. “We’re excited for the addition going in at the airport.”
Though he has passed numerous certifications, Orth will not sell chemicals. He applies them.
“Most of my work comes from area co-ops,” he said. “Customers just buy the chemical at a co-op. Then the co-op comes to me with a map and shows me what needs to be sprayed.”
He said he is excited to work with the community and urges interested parties to stop by check out his operation once he and his equipment get to town.