190. Sky Writing!


The British pilots Major. J. C. Savage and Captain. Cyril Turner devised the Sky Writing technique in 1922, using a plane and smoke. They realized its immense potential as an advertising medium, which could reach the whole nation. All people had to do was to look up at the sky!

Although not welcomed enthusiastically at first, sky writing got accepted rapidly and universally. Major Savage trained the other pilots by making them ride bicycles, out lining the letters on the ground.

Sky writing with smoke has been outlawed at Britain but it is still being used for advertising, by the big businesses, in U.S.A and many other countries.

The major disadvantage in Sky writing is that the letters get dispersed quickly by the wind. At times the first letter might have disappeared by the time the last letter is being written.

So a faster method known as Sky Typing was devised in 1949. Several air planes fly in formation and their smoke emission is synchronized electronically to form the letters.

In 1986, pilot George Sanborn created a more economical method. A single plane tows a 300 feet long cable. Several cylinders containing fogging agents are attached to it. A computer control releases the fogging agent and the words are created quickly.

“Sky Shouting” was evolved in 1930s. Advertising slogans were broadcast through powerful speakers mounted on the plane. Luckily, it did not catch on, as people got alarmed by the sudden blaring in the sky.

“Sky Projection” first demonstrated in 1893, when slogans were projected on the over head clouds. It had a brief revival in 1930s.

Towing banners behind the planes became the new mode of advertising in 1928. French aviator Louis Bleriot patented a banner that could be unfurled and rolled up while flying. But this rendered the aircraft very unstable.

Mark Sylvan du Pont-a Pennsylvanian engineer- perfected the use of detachable letters on a towed banner. Six feet tall letters were attached to tapes and a piece of netting served as a stabilizing fin, to make the banner trail behind in a straight line.

Be it Sky writing or Sky shouting or Sky projection, aerial advertising has a long and interesting history!

Visalakshi Ramani

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