Maderans and patrons of businesses at Airport Industrial Park who travel out Westberry Boulevard, past Avenue 16, to the gentle curve toward the airport may catch the hint of the sun’s reflection off one of four propeller blades before a large aircraft comes into view. The plane dominates the tie-down area just south of the Madera Airport office, dwarfing nearby private aircraft.
The yellow and white plane has not moved since being placed there nearly two months ago by S&S Helicopters. According to Jeff Streeter of S&S, the plane is in a state of limbo, having been purchased by a U.S. company based in Florida.
A closer study of the plane reveals it is a Dromader model M18A. One of the largest planes ever built for aerial application of chemicals for agricultural. The crop duster was built in Poland. A painting of a camel on the fuselage is explained in the aircraft’s Polish name, Dromader (or in English “dromedary”), a swift one-humped Arabian camel capable of carrying a large load of water.
Indeed, this agricultural bomber has a wingspan of nearly 60-feet, slightly shorter than a World War II B-25 bomber. Its fuel tank can carry 660 gallons of fuel and its hopper 4,850 pounds of chemicals. In comparison, the Stearman biplanes of the days of Ray Pool Dusters and Calair Dusters at Madera Airport could carry around 1,800 pounds of chemicals...