The Huff-Daland Duster, nicknamed the "Puffer," was the first agricultural airplane. It was the first aircraft specifically designed for crop-dusting. Developed to protect the cotton fields of the southern United States against the boll weevil.
First flown by crop-dusting division of Huff Daland Airplanes, Inc., called Huff Daland Dusters, established in 1924. This was the world's first aerial crop-dusting company and formed the roots for Delta Air Lines.
Huff Daland's 18 Dusters made up the largest privately owned fleet in the world at the time. The company dusted crops in the U.S. in the summer months, and shifted to Peru in the winter.
In 1928, Vice President and General Manager C.E. Woolman led a movement to buy the crop-dusting division. The new company, named Delta Air Service, began passenger flights on June 17, 1929.
The "Huffer-Puffers" were replaced by war surplus Boeing PT-17s by 1948. Delta continued dusting operations until 1966. As late as 1948, some of the original Duster airplanes were still in use.
The Restored Huff-Daland Duster
Following the death of C.E. Woolman in September 1966, several hundred Delta volunteers restored a Huff-Daland Duster as a memorial to Delta's founder.
The remains of two of the original 18 Dusters were transported from Monroe, Louisiana, to Delta's Technical Operations Center in Atlanta. One aircraft was rebuilt with parts from the other.
In January 1968, the restored Duster was donated to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM). It was displayed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building for about six months before being earmarked for storage. The Duster was loaned back to Delta in the late 1970s for display at its Technical Operations Center in Atlanta. The Duster was temporarily displayed at the Louisiana World Exhibition from May to November 1984, and at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1997, for the airport's 50th anniversary celebration. The Duster was on long-term loan to the Delta Flight Museum and displayed in Delta's original hangars in Atlanta until 2005, when it was returned to the NASM and installed in the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Interested in building your own model of the Huff Daland Duster? No kits exist, but you can purchase a scale Duster drawing from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.