Born in Dothan, Alabama, on December 10, 1930, Fred P. Ayres studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Alabama, served in the U. S. Army for two years during the Korean War, and then attended Mexico City College. He obtained his commercial pilot's license in 1955 and began a career in aviation by becoming a crop-dusting pilot. In the 1960s he developed a relationship with Rockwell International and marketed their line of agricultural aircraft which led to the innovative marriage of the PT6A-34 turbine engine to the Thrush airframe. Named the Ayres Thrush, this became the world's first turbine powered airplane designed for agricultural uses. Thousands of these aircraft operate throughout the world as leaders in the agricultural aviation industry. Ayres purchased Rockwell International's plant in Albany, Georgia, in 1977 and began to focus on fulfilling the need for a simple, affordable twin-engine aircraft able to serve the passenger and freight-carrying industry. After two years of intense work, the Ayres Loadmaster was unveiled to revolutionize the short haul air cargo industry. The Ayres Corporation in the 1990's transformed itself from a small company primarily manufacturing and distributing crop spraying aircraft to a 700-employee diversified aerospace company. In addition, the purchase of LET, an aircraft manufacturing firm in the Czech Republic was realized. That company's 1,700 employees produce the 19-passenger L410/420 and the 40-seat L610 and market them worldwide. Ayres has almost fifty years of experience in spraying operations, agricultural flight schools, parts distribution, technological breakthroughs, aviation dealerships, and aircraft manufacture. He was inducted into the National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame of the National Agricultural Aviation Association in 1997. In 1998, the Ayres Corporation was recognized by The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) for outstanding achievement, performance, and innovation in the industry.
For his outstanding contribution to agricultural aviation and the air cargo industry, Fred P. Ayers was enshrined on April 20, 2002.