Towing Banners        

Banner Towing

Jim Shaw's Advice

Marty, I use light ripstop nylon. I have a nylon string sewed top and bottom for the whole length. I personally tow off the ground but I have also dropped the banner from a release while in flight.

Don't like the shock to the entire airframe, that is why I tow off the ground.

I drop the banner before landing to eliminate it catching on anything and ripping out the fuse.

What is key to successful banner towing is the way it is made. I canter the banner at the leading edge about 2 in. forward with respect to the bottom. I also have a shorter harness to the top than the bottom.

I also add 1/4 oz lead weight to the bottom of the banner starting at the forward position and about ever 12 to 18 inches. this assists the banner to fly without roatating.

I also use a fiber glass rod about 22 inches at the front. to stiffen the front. I have built and flown 3 banners very successfully.

I had a very nice visit with Jim in the Denver area around Thanksgiving of 2001 and got a tour of his club's airfield--really magnificent.

The Late Great Blue Goose

  • Modified Hobbistar 60
  • Towhook attached near CG underneath the plane
  • Dedicated servo & off-the-shelf release system (DuBro?)
  • Small bungee cords in tow-line to soften shock of starting the tow
  • Free-moving connector on banner's front lines to let it find its own equilibrium
  • Light rip-stop nylon & light twine for the banner
  • Sewn seams all around
  • Lessons from six or eight flights:
    • We stretched out the banner on the ground behind the plane and just dragged it across the ground for takeoff. It worked quite well.
    • The trailing edge of the banner rippled a LOT. The twine came out the end and tasseled. I could have used rope to give it some body.
    • The tow line wrapped around the tail wheel once and we had to land with the banner still trailing behind the plane. No problem.
    • We used vinyl letters ironed on to the fabric. Fabric paint would probably have held up better. As the letters fray and break up, I'm replacing them with paint.
    • The banner does get attention. A couple came off the highway to see what was going on.
    • Anxiety was high on all flights. I found it hard to judge what was a real effect and what was merely nerves. Turns seemed a little slow. I used both rudder and ailerons on all turns, I think. I tended to keep the power up.