Applebee Aviation, Aerial Spraying and Toxic Exposure

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
May 29, 2015

A 5/20/15 Oregonian article by Rob Davis sheds light on the serious health threat posed by reckless aerial spraying. In this case, “Darryl Ivy, a truck driver for Applebee Aviation, repeatedly took shelter in his truck to avoid being sprayed with weed killers from a helicopter.” Ivy provided more than 200 phone videos documenting his experience. After being exposed to these toxins, Ivy developed persistent respiratory symptoms and started coughing up blood. He was later diagnosed with acute chemical exposure and acute contact dermatitis.[1]

Applebee Aviation (AAI) located in Buxton, Oregon is owned by Mike Applebee. According to the company website, “AAI invests in state of the art application equipment allowing them to accurately and efficiently apply the product needed while making as little negative impact to the environment as possible.”[2] However, the Oregonian report referenced above suggests otherwise.

“Applebee pilots have sprayed illegally before, Agriculture Department enforcement records show. An Applebee pilot doused a Hillsboro cyclist with an insecticide in 2010 but was not fined, state records show. The company was found in violation as well, but wasn't fined either. Last year, state records show, another Applebee pilot allowed weed killers to drift 400 feet into a neighbor's front yard during a Seneca Jones spray operation in Douglas County. Several people complained of being sickened. The pilot and the company were each penalized $407. The pilot could have gotten a bigger fine for driving 36 mph in a 25 mph zone.”[1]

To address the concerns of residents negatively impacted by chemical exposure resulting from aerial spraying, Oregon Senator Michael Dembrow and Representative Ann Lininger introduced Senate Bill 613 (SB 613). Per Oregonian reporter, Rob Davis, SB 613 included three key provisions:

"1. The state Board of Forestry would be required to set protective no-spray buffers around homes and schools. None exist today.
2. Timber companies would have to notify neighbors before spraying. Today, neighbors often must listen for approaching helicopters as their only warning.
3. Timber companies would have to disclose what and where they sprayed. Currently, companies must maintain those records and turn them over to the state only on request."[3]

Unfortunately the efforts of Dembrow and Lininger were undermined by fellow Democrats in key positions whose ties to the timber and chemical sector far exceeded their commitment to the environment as well as the health and well being of the community. Two of the major players who were influential in assuring that SB 613 fell by the wayside were recipients of generous campaign contributions from the industries in question. Brad Witt, a state representative from Clatskanie received $50,000 from timber and chemical special interests. Since 2006, the Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, Chris Edwards, has been the recipient of more than $25,000 from the timber industry. Salem Democratic Senator, Brian Clem also blocked efforts to protect residents from aerial spraying.[3]

Federal Regulations on Hazardous Aerial Spraying of Persons or Properties on the Ground

Yet regardless of the failure of the Oregon legislature to develop safeguards to protect Oregon residents, there do appear to be federal standards. Whether or not they are enforced is another question entirely. Federal Aviation Regulation (FAA) Part 137.35 states, “No persons may dispense, or cause to be dispensed, from an aircraft, any material or substance in a manner that creates a hazard to persons or property on the surface.”[4]

Advisory Circular 137-1A, which explains the certification process for agricultural aircraft operations, further elaborates on this issue:

(2) The pilot should brief the groundcrew concerning the chemical being used and the necessary protective clothing. The protective equipment (rubber gloves, apron, boots, respirator, etc.) should be tailored to the environment and particular chemical in use. When using flaggers, pilots should be able to brief them concerning the potential hazard of the pesticide being dispensed, and should indicate that they equip themselves with the appropriate protective equipment. (3) Pilots should also be aware that persons working closely with or handling pesticides should change clothes and bathe at the end of the operation, or immediately if the pesticide contacts their skin. Persons handling pesticides should wear clean work clothes daily.[5]

As noted by Davis in the 5/20/15 Oregonian article, “If such chemicals land on workers' clothes, they're supposed to take them off and wash their skin for 15 minutes. Ivy said he was never told that. He wore the same clothes for three days before realizing that might be the reason his skin felt itchy.”[1]

According to Chapter 1 of Advisory Circular 137-1A, before being approved for certification, applicants are expected to demonstrate a knowledge of the rules and regulations pertaining to the handling of “economic poisons.” Chapter 1 also addresses recordkeeping requirements as well as the reasons for revoking certification including “unsafe operating procedures or practices.” [6]

Applebee Aviation Helicopter Accidents

In addition to aerial pesticide violations there have been a number of accidents linked to helicopters registered to Applebee Aviation. See the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aviation query site for details:[7]

  • On 7/23/14 a pilot died while involved in a helicopter agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 11/14/11 a pilot sustained serious injuries while loading Christmas trees in Woodburn, Oregon.
  • On 7/12/11 a helicopter crashed during an agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 6/23/10 a helicopter crashed during an aerial application flight in Rickreall, Oregon.
  • On 5/19/06 a helicopter with a flight instructor and student pilot on board sustained serious damage during a training flight at the Skyport Airpark, a private facility in Cornelius, Oregon.

For additional information on this issue see Toxic Pesticides Released During Aerial Spraying.

Other Applebee Aviation Violations

In addition to aerial spraying violations and helicopter accidents, Applebee Aviation has been issued a number of citations related to his aviation business activities at the Apple Valley Airport in Buxton, Oregon - a property zoned for Exclusive Farm Use. Despite existing land use restrictions, Mike Applebee, the owner of the facility, attempted to run a commercial flight training business at this airstrip. His multiple infractions prompted impacted residents to invest more than $150,000 in legal expenses to protect themselves from these illegal activities. In the end, Applebee was forced to terminate all commercial flight training activity at the Apple Valley Airport.

Contact Local, State, and Federal Elected Representatives

Please contact your elected representatives to request that legislative safeguards be established to protect Oregonians from dangerous and “economic poison” exposure as well as the toxic political climate that allows illegal aerial spraying practices to occur. Those found to be in violation of their agricultural aircraft certification commitments should be held fully accountable.


[1] Davis, Rob. Whistleblower Videos Reveal Helicopter Spraying Workers with Weed Killers. Oregonian./OregonLive. (5/20/15). Available on-line at

[2] Applebee Aviation Inc. (AAI) website. About Us - Our Commitment. Available on-line at Last accessed on 5/28/15.

[3] Davis, Rob. How Average Oregonians Challenged the Timber Industry - And Lost. Oregonian/OregonLive. (4/27/15). Available on-line at

[4] Title 14: Aeronautics and Space. Part 137 - Agricultural Aircraft Operations. Subpart C - Operating 137.37 Manner of Dispensing. Subpart C - Operating Rules. U.S. Government Publishing Office. (Current as of 5/26/15). Available on-line at

[5] Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operations. FAA Advisory Circular/AC 137. Available on-line at (Chapter 2-2, n 2-3).

[6] Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operations. FAA Advisory Circular/AC 137. Available on-line at (Chapter 1-8, pg. 17).

[7] Aviation Accident and Database Synopses. National Transportation Safety Board. Available on-line at

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