Did You See The Flying Billboard Over Duluth? How Do They Take Off + Land?
Friday afternoon I was driving home from work when I spotted in the distance what looked like a postage stamp in the sky. Yeah, it was pretty far away. It took me a hot second to realize there was an airplane towing a banner in the air as an advertisement.
Initially, I jumped to the conclusion that it could be some type of political banner. Maybe it was a TRUMP banner? I kept craning my neck as I was driving trying to figure out what it was.
At another point, looking from miles away, I swear I saw a profile of a person. Was it an annoying real estate agent? A politician? I really tried to see what it was, but each time I caught a glance at it, it was just too far away. Add to the fact that it was one-sided, looking at it from the wrong angle was all wrong.
So it turns out that the banner actually was an advertisement for High Noon Seltzers. Okay, so I finally got a good enough look after it flew over Superior when I was walking my dog. It was right over us, that's why I could finally make it out.
Then, I started wondering, "How the heck do they take off and land with this huge banner?" I noticed this plane was flying with its flaps partially down to create more lift because obviously, this would be a lot of drag on an airplane.
I went to the trusty YouTube to find the answer. The plane doesn't take off or land with the banner attached. It's a lot more complicated.
First, the plane takes off. It has a long cable and hook attached to it.
The plane then comes back for a touch-and-go style maneuver and hooks into the rope for the banner. Next is a steep climb with a lot of throttle to get the plane and banner up high.
The banner then unrolls and then the plane can fly for a few hours on its fuel to bring the flying billboard places with a lot of people that will see it.
The next question is, "How do they land?" I can't imagine you would want to land with a huge banner behind you. What if it got in a tree? What if the wind pulled it and steered you off course at a critical time? The answer I found is that they release it.
Once the banner is on the ground, the pilot lands the plane by itself and then the crew rolls up the banner.
Check out how they do it in this very cool video from GBH news.