Have you ever seen an airplane skywrite when you were in a city?  Or are you remembering those banners that used to be hauled by planes along the beach?

As reported  in The Independent the British Department of Transport are going to allow planes to “skywrite” and “skytype” “to allow the creation of mid-air advertising slogans, birthday greetings and marriage proposals.”

Why? Because the British government estimates they can claim a revenue tax of 4 million pounds (6.9 million Canadian dollars) through tax revenue. Believe it or not, skywriting and skytyping were banned in the 1960’s because of the possible use of the words to spread “political propaganda”. Before that they were used for advertising items like newspapers and cigarettes.

In terms of  emissions,  the planes used are piston-engine planes that have minimal environmental impact. Estimates for skywriting planes are three tons of CO2 emissions a year compared to 35 million tons for the British aviation industry.  Britain also hopes to create a specialty of supplying skywriting pilots internationally.

Here’s a YouTube video from the BBC that describes a bit of the history of Skywriting as well as explaining how the smoke is produced. The video is about ten minute long,  and be warned, there is a bit of schmaltz in it.




  1. Hmm not sure it is fair to compare carbon emissions of skywriting to a different industry whose only thing in common is the use of winged aircraft. How about comparing its carbon emissions to other forms of advertising on a basis of effectiveness per unit of carbon?

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