David Eby works as a pilot and co-founder of Agriflite Services Inc. His wife, Denise, and sons, Garrett and Ryan, also work for the northern Indiana-based company, which has grown from one to six planes.
David Eby works as a pilot and co-founder of Agriflite Services Inc. His wife, Denise, and sons, Garrett and Ryan, also work for the northern Indiana-based company, which has grown from one to six planes.

WAKARUSA, Ind. — The Eby family members know their way around the skies of northern Indiana. Their business, Agriflite Services Inc., is focused on aerial application of products that help manage fields across the state.

David Eby grew up in Wakarusa with a love for farming and a desire to fly airplanes. His path led him to study aerospace engineering in college, but he didn’t take a traditional route after graduating. He decided, instead, to start his own business.

“I always enjoyed agriculture and enjoyed flying, so it seemed the obvious choice to start agricultural flying, which I did in 1973,” said Eby, pilot and co-founder of Agriflite. “At that time, you couldn’t get a job flying airplanes or working as an aerospace engineer. So I came back here and got involved with my dad on the family farm, plus I worked in town to help support the family.

“At the time, there was no license requirement for pesticide applicators. I just bought an airplane and got certified. I started flying then.”

Eby’s wife, Denise, has been involved with the business from day one and is a founder of the company.

“I enjoy working with the family,” said the office manager of Agriflite. “It’s been 40 years since we started in 1973. It has made a big change from being a one-man operation from a home-based type business to grow to our two boys and multi-state. But it’s so gradual you don’t realize it until you pull out some old pictures.”

Agriflite now has an office building next to the Eby home. The office environment is open and spacious, giving it a modern, collaborative feel. Connected to the office are rooms for airplane and equipment storage.

Each member of the family has a different role in the business. Denise Eby manages the bookkeeping end of Agriflite and manages the office.

The youngest son is preparing to take over management and currently is in charge of aircraft maintenance. The oldest son runs the software side of the business.

“It was a single operation up until about 15 years ago,” David Eby said. “My youngest son, this is always what he wanted to do. He started flying, and we expanded to two airplanes. And then we grew from there. Currently, we have four airplanes, and we manage two others — there’s six total. And we have six pilots.”

The business primarily sprays corn, soybeans and wheat, along with occasional smaller crops such as alfalfa and grapes.

Eby said that the most prominent spray used is fungicides. They also apply insecticides and fertilizers.

The workload on the farm changes from day to day and is greatly influenced by the weather.

“It varies from nothing to our best day, which was 20,000 acres,” Eby noted.

Agriflite has made several developments that impacted the industry.

“We’re one of the largest in Indiana, and we try to be on the cutting-edge technology,” Eby said. “In fact, we have developed several new products and introduced them to the industry, to improve safety, to improve application techniques and to decrease concerns for pesticide usage.

“One of the first things we designed was a new check valve for ag aircraft, which eliminated the constant dripping and leaking of check valves to where they don’t leak anymore. We sell those products worldwide.”

This year, the family will introduce a GPS system that will allow it to send files and receive data when each job has been completed. It will generate automatic notification to customers to alert them that their fields have been sprayed.

For more information on Agriflite, visit www.agriflite.com.