Beach-banner pilots rely on skill and some degree of daring to get their messages aloft

By Robert Bateman |  Photograph by Kevin Fleming
From the August 2017 issue

feature-bannerplanes All the Flight Moves - Delaware Beach LifeThe takeoff of the single-engine Piper Super Cub is unremarkable. Accelerating down the runway, the small aircraft moves faster and faster until it lifts off the ground and rises into the sky.

It is the next few minutes that amaze.

Entering a figure-8 pattern above the runway, the pilot opens his window and throws out a cable that dangles behind and slightly below the aircraft; at the end of that line, though difficult to see from the ground, is a grapnel hook.

The pilot then banks and passes over a small group of people off to the side of the runway, who stand near two thin poles and a pair of orange cones.

As they look up, one speaks into a radio while the plane passes by them roughly 300 feet overhead. What they are doing is letting the pilot know that his line is, in fact, hanging free and clear, secured to a tail assembly near the rear wheel.

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