The Transland Company produces the Ag-2 ag airplane.
The success of the Ag-1 plane from Texas A&M caught the attention of the Transland Company. Founded in 1945, the Torrance, California, company found success converting surplus World War II aircraft into crop dusters. Transland worked with Texas A&M on designing and building the Ag-2, which also became known as the Transland Ag-2. Construction began in 1954 and the first test flight was on Oct. 11, 1956,in Torrance, California.
The idea behind the Ag-2 wasn’t just to create a much-improved ag plane. Transland also wanted a tanker plane that could assist with fighting and controlling fires. That required a much bigger storage tank, which meant it needed much more power than crop dusting planes typically had then. Transland incorporated a Pratt & Whitney R-985 450-horsepower engine, though that would later be upgraded to 600 horsepower. That increased the Ag-2’s payload to 3,000 pounds. It also boasted a
wingspan of 42 feet, a length of 28.5 feet and a gross weight of 7,700 pounds.
In 1956, an Ag-2 was used to help control a major brush fire near Malibu, California. During the blaze the Ag-2 dropped more than 25 tons of fire retardant on the fire. The Ag-2 was far ahead of the other crop dusting aircraft conversions at the time, but it was also expensive. The Ag-2 was priced at $25,000 new, far more than the investment cost of $5,000 for buying surplus military aircraft on the market.
Despite several impressive feats of engineering, including several safety features, the Ag-2 never became a commercial success. Conrad Barlow, who had started with the company in the mid-1950s and eventually became Transland’s owner until his death, felt the Ag-2 got crowded out of the market by the offerings of major aircraft manufacturers such as Grumman, Cessna and Snow, which were getting into the agricultural aircraft market in a big way.