Skywriting Pilots Give Firsthand Look At Heart Display
TEA, S.D. – A couple small planes put on a big show in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Two skywriting pilots drew hearts in the sky and it caught everyone’s attention.
“We started around lunchtime which I guess is really convenient because everyone was out traveling around,” says Gary Middlebrooks one of the pilots behind the creation.
“Dustin and I were in two different airplanes flying at the same time,” says Middlebrooks. “We can draw the hearts a lot faster that way.”
Middlebrooks and Dustin Maner fly for the private company Vanguard Squadron and perform during air shows in the summer.
Now they’re in the off-season, so they decided to take advantage of the clear skies this week and do some skywriting.
“As a pilot you come up with any excuse to fly and this was a good one,” says Middlebrooks.
So how exactly does a pilot skywrite?
“We have tanks in the back of the airplane that hold 5 gallons of smoke oil,” says Middlebrooks. “What we do is we turn a pump on and it pumps through the exhaust pipe.”
The pair took flight in Tea Wednesday in one-seater RV-3’s to draw hearts once again.
“We start out right next to each other and then we turned the smoke on and went away from each other,” explains Middlebrooks. “That makes the top of the heart and then we come back together on the other side to make the point down at the bottom.”
To the pilots, it’s a simple maneuver.
But for us on the ground, “everybody apparently got a big kick out of it,” says Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks says he’s seen a ton of posts about the hearts on social media, he’s even heard of other people trying to take credit.
“They were joking sending messages to their significant other saying ‘hey look outside look what I got you for Valentine’s Day!’ says Middlebrooks. “That’s fine it was free for everyone to use themselves.”
The pilot says the positive feedback is a pleasant surprise and they’re glad everyone got the message: “Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone in Sioux Falls.”
The pilots flew at 10,000 feet Tuesday to create the hearts.
They used a specific technique: drawing the hearts horizontally, or sideways.
It was easier than drawing them vertically, since that requires more air space.