Ayres Thrush

Last updated
The radial engine powered Ayres S-2R Thrush
Role Aerial application aircraft
Manufacturer Ayres Corporation
Thrush Aircraft
DesignerLeland Snow
First flight1956
StatusIn production
Number builtless than 2,000

The Ayres Thrush, formerly the Snow S-2, [1] Aero Commander Ag Commander, and Rockwell Thrush Commander, is an American agricultural aircraft produced by Ayres Corporation and more recently by Thrush Aircraft. It is one of the most successful and long-lived agricultural application aircraft types in the world, with almost 2,000 sold since the first example flew 64 years ago. Typical of agricultural aircraft, it is a single-seat monoplane of conventional taildragger configuration. Originally powered by a radial piston engine, most examples produced since the 1980s have been turboprop-powered.


Design and development

Early Snow S-2A of 1959 with open cockpit and roll-over protection bar at Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 1997, in pseudo-USAAF markings Snow S-2A N4983C Santa Fe NM 19.06.97R.jpg
Early Snow S-2A of 1959 with open cockpit and roll-over protection bar at Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 1997, in pseudo-USAAF markings

The Thrush, designed by Leland Snow, first flew in 1956 and before long was being produced in series as the S-2 by the company he founded, Snow Aeronautical. [1] In 1965, the corporation and all of its assets were purchased by the Aero Commander division of Rockwell, which put it into production alongside the CallAir A-9 that it had also acquired, branding both unrelated (though similar) machines as "Ag Commanders". When Rockwell dropped the Aero Commander brand, the S-2 was renamed the "Thrush Commander".

In 1977, Rockwell sold off the production rights to the aircraft and the production facility at Albany, Georgia, which were purchased by Ayres Corporation, a firm which had been built on retro-fitting turboprop engines to Thrush Commanders. On June 30, 2003, Ayres' assets were purchased by Thrush Aircraft, the current producer of the aircraft.

The S-2 and its several variants have been purchased by agricultural spraying operators in many countries. Large numbers are operated in the United States and Australia, while other countries using the type include Costa Rica, France, Guyana, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Ayres developed a special anti-narcotics crop-spraying version of the Turbo-Thrush for the United States Department of State. This version, known as the Narcotics Eradication Delivery System (NEDS) [2] [3] featured an armored cockpit and engine to protect against hostile ground fire. Nine were sold to the Department of State between 1983 and 1985. [4] Ayres also attempted to market a militarized version as the Ayres Vigilante, intended for the Close Air Support role, but this failed to attract customers. [5] IOMAX USA of North Carolina, which had previously modified Air Tractor AT-802 agricultural aircraft as reconnaissance/attack aircraft, has developed the Archangel attack aircraft modeled on the S-2R-660. The United Arab Emirates has ordered 24 Archangels, with delivery from June 2015. [6]

Two Thrush 510Gs were modified to perform a counter-insurgency role by the Austrian company Airborne Technologies at the direction of Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, but in the absence of an export license the aircraft have not been used operationally. [7]


Aero Commander S-2D exhibited at the 1967 Paris Air Show Aero Cdr Snow S2D N1796S LBG 03.06.67 edited-2.jpg
Aero Commander S-2D exhibited at the 1967 Paris Air Show
Ayres S2R-T Thrush powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 turboprop Ayers Turbo Thrush.jpg
Ayres S2R-T Thrush powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 turboprop
Ayres S-2R Thrush AyersThrushC-GVVZ02.JPG
Ayres S-2R Thrush
Model 510G Thrush510G.jpg
Model 510G
510G armed by Bulgarian LASA Engineering Paris Air Show 2017 Lasa Thrush 510G left front.jpg
510G armed by Bulgarian LASA Engineering

Snow Aeronautical

(per Simpson, 2005, p. 39)

initial prototype with open cockpit.
pre-production version of S-1 – 3 built.
initial production version, powered by Continental engine – 73 built.
S-2 powered by 450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 – 19 built.
refined production version – 214 built.
S-2C re-engined with Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN1.
6,000 lb take-off weight – 105 built.

Aero Commander

S-2D Ag Commander


Thrush Commander 600
Thrush Commander 800
powered by Wright R-1300.


S2R-T Turbo Thrush
Rockwell Thrush Commanders converted to turbine power by Marsh Aviation using Garrett AiResearch TPE331-1-101 engines.


S-2R 1340
equivalent to Thrush Commander 600.
S-2R 1820
Bull Thrush
Pezetel Thrush
powered by PZL-3.
turboprop powered versions equipped with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A.

Thrush Aircraft

Thrush Model 400
Thrush Model 510G
General Electric H80 powered [8]
Thrush Model 510GR
Honeywell TPE 331 powered [9]
Thrush Model 510P
Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 powered [10]
Thrush Model 550
Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AG powered [11]
Thrush Model 710
Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AG powered [12]
Thrush 550G modified as two-seat armed attack aircraft. 1,600 shp (1,200 kW) PT6A-67F engine. Fitted with 6 hardpoints for 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) of external stores. [13]

Specifications (Thrush Commander 600)

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77 [14]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 Macdonald, 1964. p.138.
  2. "The Ayres Thrush & Rockwell Thrush Commander". Airliners.net. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  3. Trevithick, Joe. "The U.S. State Department has its own air force. And it's surprisingly big". The Week. The Week. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  4. J. W. R. Taylor 1988, p. 328.
  5. "AYRES V-1-A Vigilante as COIN Aircraft". Opus224's Unofficial Philippine Defense Page. Archived from the original on June 24, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  6. Ayton Air International February 2017, pp. 25, 27.
  7. Scahill, Jeremy; Cole, Matthew (11 April 2016). "Echo Papa Exposed". The Intercept. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  8. Thrush Aircraft. "510G - Thrush Aircraft". thrushaircraft.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  9. Thrush Aircraft. "510GR - Thrush Aircraft". thrushaircraft.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  10. Thrush Aircraft, Thrush. "510P - Thrush Aircraft" . Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  11. Thrush Aircraft. "550P - Thrush Aircraft". thrushaircraft.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  12. Thrush Aircraft. "710P - Thrush Aircraft". thrushaircraft.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  13. Ayton Air International February 2017, pp. 25, 31.
  14. Taylor 1976, p.379.