The family of aviation pioneer and Air Tractor founder Leland Snow and the non-profit Texas A&M Foundation have established an endowment fund for the Leland Snow Memorial Scholarship in Aerospace Engineering. The scholarship fund will provide resources to assist Texas A&M Aerospace engineering students who show exceptional leadership and problem-solving skills, creativity in aircraft design, and academic promise.
Leland Snow, Texas A&M Class of ‘52, founder and President of Air Tractor, died Feb. 20, 2011, at age 80. He built a 53-year legacy of aircraft design and innovations that ushered in the era of the modern agricultural spray plane. Olney Texas-based Air Tractor, the company he founded in 1972, produces aerial spray aircraft and single engine air tankers for aerial firefighting. Snow was actively involved in engineering and management of the company until his death.
In Snow’s book, Putting Dreams to Flight, he described his days as an adventurous young student at Texas A&M making numerous parachute jumps near and on the campus. This was in the late 1940’s when parachutes were intended for emergency use rather than sport. As a senior Aeronautical Engineering student, he began design and construction of his first airplane, the Snow S-1. As a member of the Cadet Corps, he lived in the dorm and would not be allowed to store the steel tubing for the fuselage frame in his quarters without violating the school’s military code, so he hid the tubing in a long shipping box between two sofas in the visitors’ room.
Kristin Edwards, Snow’s oldest daughter and Vice President – Sales at Air Tractor, commented, “The qualities that my father exhibited as a young Aggie – a willingness to take risks and a focused determination to achieve his goals in spite of obstacles – are what helped make Air Tractor the success it is today. Our family wants to continue his legacy by rewarding a student who shows similar characteristics.”
Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch remarked that Snow was a prolific aircraft designer whose accomplishments impacted the lives of millions. “Leland Snow was single-handedly responsible for certifying 29 different model airplanes. And then there’s an additional 20 variant models that were certified from his early designs sold to Rockwell-Standard Aero Commander in 1965. His bright yellow airplanes are responsible for increasing the production of food and fiber in the United States and many countries around the world.”
Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, head of the Aerospace Engineering Department at TAMU, remarked, “The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University is very proud of the accomplishments of Leland Snow and would like to see his legacy continue for years to come. His tireless efforts, keen intellect, strong discipline and work ethic resulted in lasting aircraft designs that will provide inspiration to future generations of students. They will know that their potential for growth and success has no limits because Leland has paved the way for them. The gift by the Snow family to establish the memorial scholarship will allow his name and legacy to continue and we are thankful for that.”
Donations to the Leland Snow Memorial Scholarship in Aerospace Engineering can be sent to: Texas A&M Foundation, Attn: Jennifer Hester, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840. Checks should be made out to the Texas A&M Foundation, with a note or reference in the memo: Leland Snow Memorial Scholarship.