Banner Airplanes Don’t Take Off With the Banners Attached

Most people have seen an airplane fly by pulling an announcement or advertisement of some type. These ads or messages are called airplane banners and have proven to be an effective way to get a message out to a large group quickly. So, how do they get such a huge banner into the sky? If the banner were attached to the plane before it took off, it would cause two problems. First, the banner would drag across the runway and become damaged. Second, the drag of the huge banner would make it more difficult to get off the ground, which means the banner would drag even longer. Getting the airplane banner into the sky takes a great deal of skill. First, the airplane takes off with a device called a “grapnel hook” hanging in the window. The other end is attached to the tail of the plane by either a rope or cable. When the airplane is safely off the ground, the pilot unhooks the device from the window, letting it trail behind the plane. So, how does the banner stay upright and not spiral in the wind? First, the tail end of the banner has tiny parachutes that catch the wind and keep it straight. Then, the bottom has weights that keep the edge closest to the ground. When the pilot has completed the mission over the designated area, he will fly the banner back to the drop off place, fly low again, and, release the hook so the banner falls to the ground unharmed. That way it's reusable if that's desired. All this may seem like a lot of trouble, but the result is worth the effort.