Banner towing aircraft in action
Camarillo Airport- July 29, 2007
you have seen them. The airplanes towing banners through the sky at the
beach, or at sporting events, or just about anywhere. I remember years
ago seeing a framework with red letter that was towed behind small
airplanes. Things have changed a bit and the banners have gotten much
larger and more flashy than ever before. It's a great was to advertise
your product, television show, movie or what have you to a large
I was at Camarillo Airport
yesterday for a couple of hours, practicing my shooting and
experimenting with some settings. The fun part about "practice days" is
that you never know what you may find. This is true especially at
I took up my usual
shooting position near the flightline and didn't have to wait long for
my first subject, a 1957 Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub. I knew the color
scheme and the cowl off configuration of the aircraft meant that this
was a banner towing aircraft. I have seen them around Camarillo a
number of times coming and going from banner towing flights.
It is quite something to
watch them perform a "banner snatch" operation. It is reminiscent of
the way the C-47s would snatch a glider during WWII. The aircraft dives
down with a hook that grabs a line run across the runway that has the
banner attached to it. Once the hook has been made, the Piper climbs
slowly while heading to it's destination.
It sounds simple enough,
but it does take skill and timing on the part of the pilot to hook it.
If it is missed, the pilot goes around again for another attempt. I
have witness this several times at Camarillo, but have never watched
them bring one back. I wondered how they brought them back and
disconnected them before landing. Again, some timing and skill are
involved. The pilot lines up along the area where the banner was
originally grabbed to release it from the connecting point on the
airplane. He has to do this while also dealing with other air traffic
in the pattern, as well as winds.
A second airplane soon
came into view that was on the way back from a promotional flight. In
this sequence, we see a 1963 Piper PA-18Super Cub with a similar paint
scheme and configuration as the previous aircraft.
After that, the pilot
turns to the downwind leg for landing. Here is the second aircraft
taxiing by after dropping the banner. Both of these aircraft are
registered to Van Wagner Aerial Media LLC. Van Wagner Aerial Media is
the largest company doing aerial media in the United States.
NOTE: These image are NOT public domain, there are all
copyrighted. See copyright notice below.
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