Banner Towing Stories

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Lindberg, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,347
    Location:
    North Texas

    Display name:
    Lindberg
    As one of the newest waivered banner-tow pilots in the country, I'd love to hear your best and worst stories. IMG_1298_001_1.gif
     
    Seanaldinho likes this.
  2. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2020
    Messages:
    401

    Display name:
    Magman
    One guy made 3 circles of the stadium before someone told him he had missed

    the pick up. Sadly ; he never flew after that.


    Another guy dropped the banner on a moving train!

    They managed to arrange a stop 20 miles later.
     
    Lindberg likes this.
  3. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    11,180
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    Congrats. What are you waivered from? Don’t got no stories for ya, sorry.
     
  4. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,347
    Location:
    North Texas

    Display name:
    Lindberg
    14 CFR 91.311

    No pilot of a civil aircraft may tow anything with that aircraft (other than under § 91.309) except in accordance with the terms of a certificate of waiver issued by the Administrator.
     
  5. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,240
    Location:
    CT & NY

    Display name:
    Dana
    Many years ago I kept my Taylorcraft tied down at an airport where there was a very low budget banner operation. They had two Bird Dogs and a Stearman. I occasionally hung out with the banner pilots, and one day the owner of the operation offered me a job. I told him I didn't have a commercial, and he said, "I don't care, I've seen you fly." He would pay cash.

    I actually thought about it as getting more Stearman time was tempting, but he wanted all day, every Saturday and Sunday, all summer, and I had a life (including, most importantly, a new girlfriend) so I declined.

    Good thing, no doubt, as a couple of weeks later one of the Bird Dogs had an engine out right when snagging a banner and crashed on an island. Nobody was hurt, but if it'd been me, with no commercial certificate... :eek2:

    I'm still married to that girl.
     
    Albany Tom, NHWannabe, NoHeat and 4 others like this.
  6. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2018
    Messages:
    2,611

    Display name:
    Juliet Hotel
    Once had a rope break while crossing over a neighborhood at 800AGL. I was running late getting set up and the guy helping me pointed out that the tow rope had just slightest bit of fraying right at the knot where the loop connected. I looked at it and said ah its not that bad and I don't really have time to run back and get another rope so we'll just fly it and then I'll cut the rope and fix it when I get back. About 10 minutes after the pickup, the plane suddenly lurched forward and pitched down. I looked back to see the banner curling over and heading for the ground. Marked the spot on the GPS and flew back to the airport. Got in the car and drove to the spot and started looking up and down the streets. Saw a cop in front of a house and figured I'd found my spot. Got out of the car and saw my banner folded up on the front lawn. Cop asked if it was mine. I said yes, then I got an earful about how the cop didn't know what the FAA regulations were but he was pretty sure it was illegal for me to drop my banner just anywhere like that yada yada yada... :rolleyes: Lesson learned, never flew with frayed rope after that.

    It wasn't a banner but I got to do some towing work for a research project being conducted by a military contractor whose name rhymes with Rockheed Lartin. Some sort of advanced radar tech they were working on and they wanted a long sock filled with different sized stainless steel balls separated by specific amounts of bubble wrap and then flown over a predetermined grid at something like 9k MSL. The problem was they knew a lot about how jets fly but they didn't know crap about how banners fly so their long sock they made liked to get unstable and start twisting in circles instead of staying upright when you were pulling it. You can only twist a rope so much before it breaks. A long banner-like sock filled with stainless steel balls will drift across two counties before it lands if you let it go from 9k MSL. Don't ask me how I know this. :oops:

    Side note on that one. On a later flight after I told them they needed to design some leadpole weights into their sock so it would stay upright and fly without twisting, I was on freq with them and reported crossing the 1st or 2nd waypoint as specified in their protocol. Shortly afterward, my noise cancelling headphones started clicking like crazy. I'd noticed before when taxiing at a class C airport that my the noise cancelling in my headphones would click once every time the radar antenna swung around and pointed in my direction. This was that kind of clicking but it was nearly constant. So I asked their radio contact if they had just turned on their fancy experimental radar doohickey. He said 'standby' then minute or two later he comes back and says 'they're asking how you knew...' It took a lot of self control not to mess with him and tell him I could feel a weird burning sensation in my scrotum.

    Good luck with the new endeavor. You're going to get real good at slow flight and steep turns at low altitude and recovering from unexpected stalls.
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    13,125

    Display name:
    Velocity173
    Never flown one. Worked a few jets during ATC days that were towing them though. “Snake 11 prepare to drop…drop, drop, drop.” Think they use mostly Lears for gunnery towing these days.

    E723CF05-4DFC-4B85-8893-1A9FFF3D481C.jpeg
     
  8. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,347
    Location:
    North Texas

    Display name:
    Lindberg
    How'd they keep the rope from melting?
     
  9. Magman

    Magman Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2020
    Messages:
    401

    Display name:
    Magman
    Years ago they used F100s towing a honeycomb foam dart.

    Colored shells for scoring.

    If speeds were off when releasing the target it might tear part of the stabilizer
    Off.

    Wish I could find a pic as I seldom took pix till cell phone days.
     
  10. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,347
    Location:
    North Texas

    Display name:
    Lindberg
    Fortunately I haven't had anyone shooting at me yet.
     
  11. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    13,125

    Display name:
    Velocity173
    Not sure what mitigation procedures they use for each aircraft but they’ve had a few failures in the past due to exhaust. I imagine it’s a pretty rare event though.