Glenaire Gourmet Grill 2016 – 2017 Banner Campaign

Quick Facts

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19 December 2016 – 2 January 2017
Durban harbour entrance, Salt Rock and Ballito
2,534 km
3,112 litres
Bell Jetranger B3
3,350 lbs (1,523 kgs)
1,500 lbs (682 kgs)
Allison 250-C20J Turbine 420 SHP, 317 SHP for take-off and 270 for MCP @ 50,970 RPM
130 kts (240 km/h)
40 kts (74 km/h)
3.5 Hours
91 litres per hour
90.6 US Gallons (344 litres)
840 sqm
250 kg
500 – 1000 feet above ground
André Botes & André Botes Jr

The author together with his son, Andre jr!

The brand new banner rolled out at the factory in Cape Town for final inspection only 30 minutes deadline before the courier company departed for Durban on 16th January!

Offloading the banner in Durban on Sunday was a relief!

Surprise call!

19 December 2016 – 2 January 2017
17 Flights
34.0 Hours

I hate rush jobs and I knew that this one is not going to be any different. Aviation is a one-chance world and rushing things usually ends up compromising safety. It was with mixed emotions that I read Stacy Burgers’ (from Kotton Kandy Media) sms-message that Sunday morning saying that the client (Glenaire Gourmet Grill) has agreed to go ahead with the SkyBanner campaign in Durban. They were opening a brand new grill in town and wanted to fly 34 hours starting on 19 December. I immediately knew we were in BIG trouble. On the one hand I wanted to impress our newest client with our customary professional and excellent service, but I realised we will be pushing the envelope here to get everything ready in time to fly the banner on time. It gave us 10 days to design the banner, finalise the artwork, order the fabric, get it printed and then assembled.

We still need CAMU clearances, confirm and book the helicopter, book airline tickets to Durban, find and book accommodation as well as sourcing a qualified safety pilot. All companies were in a state of closing down for the summer holidays and we managed to get the team motivated for one last job. After assembling the banner we needed a courier company to drive the massive beast down to Durban and "Slaapstad" is not known for working overtime. Especially not on 16th December, a major SA holiday.

We pushed hard and the whole team worked together like a well-oiled machine and by 19h00 on Friday 16th December the brand new banner was loaded on the truck heading for Durban.

My middle son, also a flyer (Andre Jr) agreed to join me. He recently had a, let’s call it a "mishap" with his car and needed the extra money to fix it. I was looking forward to this experience to work and share our mutual love for aviation with someone you love dearly.

At the time our Bell Jet Ranger (ZS-HPU) was in for a 100-hour inspection (MPI) and were due back at the hanger on Monday morning the 19th to fly the first flight. Arriving at the airport on Sunday morning we waited for the courier company to deliver the banner at the airport. I was relieved once we saw the truck and with happy hearts we unloaded the familiar bag. Our hearts started pounding, eager to get this beast up there!

Although my son has assisted me many times in the past we again went through all the ground operations and safety requirements one by one. Safety is always our major concern and this time there were no exceptions. Once satisfied the safety systems are all operational and everybody is comfortable with their roles we left for our guesthouse. Our accommodation was basic but comfortable. Nothing like home but it had to do. One can’t be too choosy as we were in the heart of silly season with little available accommodation, all fully booked by the Vaalies. Don’t let anyone tell you that the life of a Helicopter pilot is romantic...

On Monday morning we learnt that ZU-HPU was not yet ready and we had to fly our backup helicopter, a much bigger and more expensive B407, for the first “test” flight. After an eventless flight of 1.2 hours we headed back "home".

Kevin called early on Tuesday and informed us that our trusted Jetty will be ready and at our disposal from around 11h00. I don’t like flying a bird that just came out of major maintenance as it is usually here when things goes wrong. Loose fuel or hydraulic lines has been the cause of many sudden, silent cockpits and subsequent autorotations, not what I’d like to practice today, especially with a massive banner attached to my belly... I asked the AMO for a detailed briefing of exactly what maintenance was done on the bird to make sure our pre-flights are done thoroughly giving special attention to those areas where maintenance was done.

ZS-HPU landed at 11h00 and after greeting our friends in the control tower and informing them of our upcoming intended slow and low ops in their airspace for the next 15 days we got ready for the second flight.

The ground operations are as important and crucial for safe operations as the flights themselves. It’s part of the ground teams responsibility to make sure that all connections on the banner are safe and secure. The conditions especially of the load bearing parts are also very important and the PIC (pilot in command) walks the line before each flight, as this at the end of the day stays his responsibility. Satisfied that all systems were safe and secure we were ready to get going.

Eventually we were ready...

Start and run-up was uneventful and I recall from previous experience that her turbine spooled up at below average temperatures after introducing fuel. I hardly ever saw +700 degrees on the TOT while spinning up and inducing A-1 Jet fuel to the hot section of the trusted Allison turbine.

Andre jr hooking up the banner.

The author ready to turn A-1 Jet fuel into Sound!

All important ground prep! This one was BIG!

After take-off and climb out to 500ft AGL, we headed southwards for the harbour entrance and for the next hour and 54 minutes we displayed the largest SkyBanner Durban has ever seen. We could clearly see people stop and stare at this spectacle. Taking pictures, waving and shouting, we immediately knew that this campaign was going to be an awesome success. We didn’t want to enter King Shaka’s International CTR (Controlled Traffic region) so we operated between the harbour mouth and the Umhlanga lagoon, just South of the CTR.

85% of any population finds themselves outdoors during peak times travelling to work, school or play and during holidays this is no exception. With daily numbers running into hundreds of thousands we knew that our campaign of 34 hours over 15 days will expose our clients brand to millions of people in the most awesome way!

Operating a massive SkyBanner from the Virginia airport is a tricky and delicate operation. The airfield, especially this time of year, is extremely busy with every PPL (private pilots) in the vicinity now finding time to brush up his or her advanced fighter pilot skills in the circuit. We also saw a lot of helicopters on scenic flights to and from the harbour or Umhlanga and we were restricted to operate only on the western half of the grass between runway 05-23 and the parallel taxiway about only 25 meters wide.

Taking into account that the winds are normally pumping close to 20 knots at an angle from the sea or land it takes a lot of accurate flying and directing from the Co-Pilot. His roll is to monitor Torque and Temperature gages not to exceed the upper limits while the PIC hangs out flying the banner and also helps to direct the banner to the touch down target area. The approach is flown at 40 knots and at a height of 500 ft AGL. (Above ground level) Once over the threshold and clear of any obstacles we slow down to 30 and descend to an altitude of 400ft. Slower and slower and once we reach the target area then into the hover at 350 feet AGL. Standing still in the hover at 350ft we slowly (less than 200 ft/min) descend, not to enter Vortex state, still lower and lower and at 280 ft the weight ballast at the bottom of the banner softly touches the ground. Both pilots will agree that they are happy with the position of the banner, as the prevailing surface wind will move the banner to one or the other direction. Then it’s a matter of a somewhat awkward, reverse & descending manoeuvre until we land back with the ropes visible to the PIC at all times. For a fixed wing pilot this reverse flying is something to get used to...

It sounds easier that it is but after a hundred or so hours experience on the rope one starts to understand the dynamics of banner operations.

And then she flew! 40 meters long and 21 meters high.

Operating on the tiny grass between the active runway and the parallel taxiway demanded all our concentration all the time!

Police 4 passing us low level with Sibaya Casino in the background!

Dead mans’ curve!

This is an area in the profile of helicopter operations where if one should loose an engine/s the probability of a safe autorotation is not too good. This profile is usually at speeds below 30 knots and altitudes between 30 and 400 feet AGL. This is not a place where chopper pilots like to dwell but with banner operations and many other helicopter jobs, it’s part of the flight profile. This is just the more reason for thorough pre-flight inspections of both the banner system and the helicopter.

Our target

Our target was to fly 34 hours in 17 days. I knew from experience that we would not be able to fly every day. December months are notorious for bad weather and high winds and we agreed that we will try to get ahead of schedule with 4 or so hours in credit just in case. With the exception of the 24th we flew every single day and on two occasions managed to fly twice in once day with 4.4 hours being the most.

Our view of Durban for 34.2 hours!

The CBD was also covered extensively

Popular beaches was our hunting ground

Mostly the surface wind speeds were on the upper side of our limit of 20 knots. The highest wind speed at 500 feet I recall was 26kts gusting 31kts. This means that with an IAS (indicated airspeed) of 40 kts we either saw ground speeds of 9 kts or 71kts depending on our direction of flight.

We flew 34.2 hours in 15 days being unable to fly only one day.

The Banner & following flights

The banner proved to be perfect. The leading edge and load-bearing belt looked like new and will be good for 500 hours. The weaving of the trailing edge was minimal and we were pleased with a job well done. The banner flies perfectly stable under the helicopter and making S like turns really looks awesome from below.

Our flights took us from Virginia airport all the way up to Salt Rock just North of Ballito calling King Shaka’s Tower on freq 118.45 as we pass Umhlanga Lagoon. The boys and girls at King Shaka was very friendly and warned all the incoming regional and International Airliners that there was a Banner in Tow Jet Ranger on their TCAS. (Traffic collision avoidance system) I recall one joker in a landing B737-800 chirping the controller that we were very hard to miss in any way, even at more than 5kms away...

We were focussed, trying to hunt down the crowds. We prolonged flight and orbited only the busiest and most crowded beaches. We worked at strategies and time slots to maximise exposure to the benefit of our client. We saw hundreds of thousands and more accurately over the 15 days millions of people being awed by this super BIG steak flying by in the air. The digitally printed banner proved to be the right choice and thanks to Stacey this was a very striking banner indeed. I think everybody in Durban and surrounds now knows about Glenaire and their best steaks in town. Testing our waiter at Mama Luciana’s restaurant one afternoon he said everybody having lunch on the stoep loved and talked about the "Glenaire" banner as we flew past.

Tony invites us over.

Being away from home during Christmas and New Year was not very pleasant but the job had to be done. Tony invited us over to his prestigious new Grill in Downtown Durban. Arriving he showed us around and offered us a couple of cold ones. We were delighted as he handed us a meat parcel (enough for 2 weeks) to take along to braai. We could not wait and the very first opportunity we found, the fire was cracking and the smoke was turning. Thanks Tony! I can testify those were indeed the best steaks in Town!

We were spoiled rotten... Tony, the owner of Glenaire Gourmet Grill with the author!

Time flies and even more so when busy

The Hobbs meter (hour meter on the helicopter) slowly ticked along and we had single figures left. Tony Teixeira from Glenaire launched a social media competition and we also contributed by offering a free helicopter flight for 2 people.

On Monday the 2nd January we still had 2 hours to go. It was sort of sad and happy as well. My son missed his friends in Stellenbosch but I sensed that he was also going to miss the daily routine of flying helicopters along the beautiful coastline of Umhlanga. We saw some beautiful days, but also rainy, grey and windy days but the job was done, 34.2 hours in 15 days.

But what about the results

On our return I asked Stacey for the website hits data from the web hosting company Afrihost and following the results.

The average website visits from 1 December to 18 December was 812 visitors per day The average website visits from 19 December to 2 January was 4,901 visitors per day, or a total of 73,511 visitors over 15 days.

That is an Increase of 603% during the days we flew the banner.

After the 2nd January the average number of visits drastically declined again to 1,181 per day, confirming once again that SkyBanners SA is undoubtedly the best OOH advertising medium out there.

Website visitors increased with an average of 603% from 812 to 4,901 per day during our flight days.

SkyBanners SA is not about us, it's ALL about YOU!

SkyBanners SA for traditional Out of Home Advertising (OOH)!

  • OOH - SkyBanners SA amplifies the facts!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA achieves the lowest CPM's (cost per '000 views) and highest ROI's in advertising, both as a stand-alone medium and as part of a media mix!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA is 3 Times More Efficient at Driving Online Search Activity than TV, Radio and Print
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA presents ads that can’t be delayed, skipped, ignored, blocked or turned off!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA delivers highest impact & Recall factor messages relevant to the environment precisely where audiences experience and need them!
  • OOH - SkyBanners resulted in a 603% increase in Website hits!
  • OOH - SkyBanners contributed to more than 1.2 million UNIQUE visitors to our clients website after only 1 campaign!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA builds brand affinity at levels equal and more to TV, Radio or Print at a fraction of the cost!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA directs the masses to digital, online or social media via SMS, SSID & "#" "Call to Action" campaigns!
  • OOH - SkyBanners SA successfully combats Cable Theft, Illegal Connections, Fraud and all forms of Crime with their "Report a Crime" Banner campaigns!

We capture +10 million people after only 1 flight around JHB, Tshwane, CPT & DBN for a super low CPM (cost per '000 views) of only R9.95

SkyBanners SA is undoubtedly the best traditional OOH medium out there!

Please take a few minutes to study the following links, attachments & mockups

Marketing Video PP
Glenaire banner takeoff from FAVG

Thanks Glenaire Gourmet Grill, for the opportunity to be of service! Till next time!

The author operating in the "dead mans curve - It’s just what we do!"

It was a tough campaign, both physically and mentally.

We are grateful for many safe flights and humbled by the experience. A great time was had. Strong, solid friendships were built and a new client was helped! I honestly believe that when we help our clients to excel in their business, our own business will grow from strength to strength as well. We are in the helping business!

And that boys and girls, is how it’s done!

Allow us to help you!

André Botes

SkyBanners SA
082 557 1055

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