The Job That Only 6 People In the World Do Full-Time

For nearly a century, skywriting has filled the sky with letters of love and persuasion, driven by those with disposable cash and a tendency toward the obvious. While for us it’s just plumes of fluffy white letters, the pressure is on for the pilot. In fact, there’s basically a zero margin for error in this business. Each letter takes 90 seconds to complete and will only last between 3-7 minutes. It will be over a mile high, which means anyone within a 20-mile radius can see it. The skywriter must also write the message backwards, so it mirrors back correctly to the audience below. It’s so technically precise that for the pilots it’s like acrobatic mathematics. It’s such a difficult task that there are only 6 full-time skywriters in the world earning a living doing it. Skywriting works by mixing paraffin oil with the heat from the plane’s exhaust. The liquid sits near the engine, and around 30 gallons of it can write up to 12 letters. A switch is flipped inside the aircraft, and thick lines of smoke pour out into the sky. While it hasn’t always been the case, today’s smoke is biodegradable and non-toxic. In case you’re curious, a professional full-time skywriter makes an average of $1,890 a day, with the average annual salary in the neighborhood of $157,000.