THE BASICS: Try to make your message from mostly rounded letters, if possi- ble (O, C, S, G, D, J, P, etc.). Letters with sharp angles and several straight lines take longer and more passes to complete. Some letters, such as “F,” can be written in two strokes instead of three if you can make a sharp turn at the top of it. Any action you can take to write quicker is good. Also, keep your message as short as possible, only two or three words. And try not
to use words with more than six letters.
When skywriting, all letters are
written in “mirror image.” The easiest
way to understand this concept is to
write your message on a plain piece of
paper with a heavy black marker. Now
turn the paper over and lay it face down
in front of you. The letters will show
through faintly but appear backward.
This is the way you must write them in
You will always be looking down on
what you are writing, but everyone
watching sees them from the bottom as
they look up.
Now, using a pencil, plot the most
efficient course through the letters. Plan
so that when you come out of one letter
you are heading in the right direction to
start the next letter. Avoid wasting time
turning around and getting into position for another pass. Remember, you
are working with smoke; the faster you
write, the easier your message will be
read from the ground. Smoke does not
hold together for very long. Always
make a diagram of your routine and clip
it to your yoke or panel so it can be easily seen and followed while in the air.
SKYWRITING IN AN EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT
Owners and operators of experimental aircraft certainly can
enjoy skywriting for fun, but they also may charge for the
service…as long as they are not “carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.” An experimental airplane is
not specifically restricted from commercial operations;
however, the pilot would need a commercial pilot certificate and valid second class medical before he or she could
receive compensation for skywriting.
Skywriting is best done only on blue-sky
days. That is its major fault. Even those
friendly looking summer cottonballs
mean you cannot do it. We need the sky
to be cloud-free. Colored smoke could
work great in a cloudy sky, but so far no
one has come up with any colored
smoke that will not either color the bottom of your plane or poison the pilot.
To get started, climb to an altitude
of 8,000 to 12,000 feet above the
ground in search of smooth air.
Turbulence and wind currents tend to
break up the smoke pattern too
quickly. Always allow for total wind
drift by beginning your message
slightly upwind of the area over which