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A Brief History on Skywriting and Skytyping

Have you ever attended an outdoor event and been mesmerized by a plane writing in the sky overhead? It’s captivating as you try to guess the message they’re going to write. With this, the advertiser has captured your attention for much longer than they would with a billboard or an ad in the local paper.

The very first skywriting ad was done in 1922 with credit for its development going to John C. Savage, an Englishman who later patented his creation. Pepsi-Cola Corporation, one of the first major companies to use skywriting for ongoing advertising purposes, knew how compelling skywriting could be and made aerial advertising a popular part of their marketing strategy from the 1930s until the mid-1950s.

Skywriting, which is done by one plane and can generally write up to 6 characters or with up to five planes for even longer messages, has faded in popularity over the years and been replaced by skytyping.

Skytyping is a technique where smoke is emitted in a series of bursts, like dots. The message design is generated by a computer and electronic signals control the smoke output allowing for precise and controlled designs that don’t rely on a pilot’s manual timing and maneuverability. We typically deploy five planes in tandem to create large complex messages in the sky. The messages are completed quickly for maximum exposure and stay in the sky longer than traditional skywriting ads.

While other forms of aerial advertising like sky letter banners and aerial billboards have been more popular than skywriting in the last few decades, the advent of social media – especially Instagram – is changing the game. Social media has brought about a skytyping resurgence. Companies are always looking for opportunities to create shareable, ready-to-go-viral campaigns and skytyping is a medium where creativity reigns. As written in The Atlantic, “[skytyping] offers the ephemerality of Snapchat with the promise of permanence and wider distribution across platforms like Instagram and Twitter.”

Fun Facts About Skytyping:
  • Messages are typically printed between 10,000 and 15,000 feet in the air.
  • Each letter is over a half mile long and messages can be up to 15 miles wide.
  • The best conditions of course are few clouds, little or no wind, and cooler temperatures. Then the letters may be seen for 30 miles in any direction and can last 20 minutes.

If you’re interested in planning a skytyping campaign for your business, complete the form to the right to request a quote.

We have used Aerial Messages exclusively for our aerial advertising since 2012 and have been extremely satisfied with the work that they have done. Aerial Messages has handled all of the coordination of many nationwide aerial advertising campaigns for Savage Race, often in very remote areas and on short notice.
Sam Abbit, CEO - Savage Race