Flying banner plane takes on personal pride for pilot

Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 09, 2017

Tom Mace, who pilots planes that carry those tow banners that carry messages, helps people like Mathew and Lyndsay tell their friends that they're having a baby girl.

It was a moment made possible by a man they barely know.

And after retiring as a fire captain, decided to fly banners and billboards on planes. He builds the banners himself, letter by letter. He even stops to sew if there's a tear.

Mace, who has been a pilot since high school, has seen it all in the decade he's owned his company. He's navigated tricky weather.

"In four different occasions, it's taken this big airplane from horizontal to straight down," Mace says.

He's also had some tricky customer requests.

"I've had a couple other ones that have been personal a little too personal against people and a little too slanderous," Mace says.

Marriage proposals may be his favorite.

"I've got a hundred percent track record on saying yes on marriage proposals," Mace recalls.

For Mace, perfection is paramount.

"I check this thing about four different times five different times," Mace says.

Once each banner is finished and finalized the focus turns to getting it in the air. He starts by attaching a rope to two 10 feet poles. Then uses a lead pole to attach the banner and lay it flat.

"I just basically kick it out," Mace says.

From there, he heads inside his plane, where a hook is attached to another rope. Now the hard part. Once he's about 50 to 75 feet in the air Mace drops the hook from his plane underneath the rope on the poles and grabs the banner.

"Sometimes we hit it and sometimes it takes two or three tries," Mace says.

While this may be a triumph for Mace, doing what he loves while bringing joy to others is the real reward.

"It's a privilege to be a part of their day," Mace says. "And they'll always remember us we'll always remember them."