Banner Towing in a PT-17


Uber Driver
I've been flying with a nice chap in his PT-17, trying to get a waiver to start a banner company. Not exactly the most common banner plane, but it's an amazing experience, and an impressive sight from the ground. Today he did his check flight for the feds, and I managed to get the pick on film. Sorry for the bad quality and camerawork!


It was a very windy day, so we only went for 18 letters. The Stearman is allowed 35 maximum.


Unknown Member
Nice! Sometimes on Saturday mornings, I would usually see a plane towing a banner for GEICO. It's a C-152, though, and it flies really, really slow under maximum power.


New Member
That didn't look like it was difficult. The descriptions I've read before sounded like the plane needed to be practically stalling before picking up the banner.


Uber Driver
Much depends on the technique. If you use too short of a rope, it requires a very dramatic upward pitch to swing the hook down and make the pickup, and this is how I flew banners previously. It's actually easy once you have a bit of experience, and it's efficient. It also minimises chance of drgging the banner, either accorss the ground or into sticky-up things, as it gets higher faster.
The equipment for this new operation allowed for a much longer rope (you have to make the banner's rope longer as well) It has a benefit of making for easier and safer pickups, but you need a larger area to climb out, as the wind will pull the banner further out of the airplanes flightpath, and the drop has to be much more precise.
We developed this because the stearman has a much higher stall speed than the supercubs that most people use. Speeds have to be higher and more precise, and the airplane, even with a flattened prop, has much less performance. You can see in the video that the banner still peels up nicely instead of dragging.

The biplane towing a banner is about the pretiest thing I've ever seen. I feel priveledged to be involved with this project.