The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) has announced Montana native Darrin Pluhar has been elected its president for 2020.
Pluhar owns Plu’s Flying Service Inc., an aerial application business in Ekalaka, Montana, that operates three aircraft. Since establishing the business in 1996, he has been servicing producers across southeastern Montana for more than 20 years. Pluhar hires pilots as needed but does most of the spraying himself. He primarily applies herbicides to winter wheat and spring wheat, but he also treats a great deal of pasture and alfalfa, with some safflower, sunflowers and corn. His season starts in April and ends in November. Besides Montana, Pluhar is licensed as a pesticide applicator in eight other states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Texas, where he has performed boll weevil eradication applications.
Pluhar has been an active member of the Association of Montana Aerial Applicators (AMAA) and NAAA for years. He has served on AMAA’s board since 2000. In 2008-2009, he went through the NAAA/Syngenta Leadership Training Program, which develop new leaders and advocates for the agricultural aviation industry. Pluhar served as AMAA’s president in 2010-2011. He joined NAAA’s board of directors as AMAA’s state representative in 2013 and has served on several key committees, including NAAA’s finance, government relations and safety/federal aviation regulations committees. He served as NAAA’s treasurer in 2016 and as its vice president in 2019.
Besides being an aerial applicator, Pluhar is a certified flight instructor. He believes safety should always be the aerial application industry’s top priority and is a strong proponent of NAAA’s efforts to improve ag pilot recurrent training. To that end, he became a PAASS presenter in 2016 and has served since then as one of about a dozen presenters who deliver the Professional Aerial Applicators’ Support System safety education program, known as the PAASS Program for short, at state and regional ag aviation conventions around the country.
Serving alongside Pluhar on NAAA’s 2020 officer team are Vice President Mark Kimmel, owner of Dixie Dusters Inc. in Itta Bena, Mississippi; Secretary John “JT” Helms, vice president of Old Republic Aerospace Inc. in Kennesaw, Georgia; and Treasurer Mike Rivenbark, owner of Moore’s Aerial Applicators in Clinton, North Carolina. Pluhar is honored to serve alongside his fellow officers.
“It is a privilege to have been chosen by the NAAA board of directors to represent this great organization as president for 2020,” he said. “I am humbled beyond belief.”