How Airplanes Pick Up Those Giant Advertising Banners
Ever wonder how those sky banners get in the sky?
Wonder no more! Turns out it’s a bit more complicated than just taking off with a banner attached to the plane.
First, the plane takes off sans banner, but with a hook dangling from the rear:
Then, the pilot has to circle back low enough so the hook can grab the line attached to the banner, which is held in place between two poles:
Once the banner is hooked, the pilot climbs rapidly to bring it into the sky:
The video at the top of this page shows how it all happens from several angles, while a clip posted on YouTube in 2013 gives a more in-depth look at the equipment and how it works:
Towing banners is not without risk. A 2014 report in the Tampa Bay Times found 250 accidents involving planes with banners over 25 years, with at least 53 deaths in that span.
The ads aren’t welcome everywhere. They are banned in parts of Hawaii, and a pilot was even arrested in 2014 for hauling a banner over Honolulu. Several other cities have considered similar bans.