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Banner planes take Jersey shores towns by storm as Memorial Day Weekend kicks off

A glimpse behind the summertime staple banner planes
A glimpse behind the summertime staple banner planes 03:10

WOODBINE, N.J. (CBS) – If you spend any part of your summer down the shore, you've probably seen banner planes soaring across the sky. Over the years they've become a summertime staple with the likes of saltwater taffy and fudge touches.

It's a common sight in the sky as seagulls or kites. Small planes pulling banners advertising everything from food, and drinks, to your favorite team.

"With digital media out there and everything else, we're actually busier this year than we've ever been." David Dempsey, owner of High Exposure Aerial Advertising said.


Dempsey started High Exposure Aerial Advertising nearly 30 years ago with just a single plane. He operates one of the largest aerial advertising companies in the country.

DiMattei: "Did you ever imagine that you'd become kind of a staple of the summertime like you are now?"

Dempsey: "Never. It wasn't on the radar at all. I thought, commercial airlines, corporate flying, or something like that. I would have never guessed I'd be down here flying banners along the beaches that I used to visit with my family when I was a kid. It's awesome."

Locally, High Exposure's fleet of 17 planes operates out of a small airport in Woodbine, New Jersey. 

From there, it's a short flight to the shore where they fly banners up and down the beach all summer long. From Ocean City, Maryland to the Hamptons.

"Aerial advertising used to be considered a form of guerrilla marketing when I first got into the industry. And now, it really is traditional media for a lot of big advertisers," Dempsey said.

It's Day 2 of training for High Exposure's new pool of pilots. Among them is Connor Bassi who grew up going to the shore and admiring the banner planes from afar. 

"Every few minutes you hear those planes come over, take a glance up, and they're carrying different banners, different advertisements. And it must work because they're constantly going all day every day," Bassi said.


Bassi is learning how to properly set up a banner so one day he'll be able to pull off the difficult maneuver of picking it up with his plane mid-flight.

"The banner pick is maybe what some people would call extreme," Bassi said. "We come towards the ground, we point the nose at the ground, we go full power. And then at the last second, we pull up rather abruptly to swing the hook down and catch the banner on the way up."

Sometimes it takes multiple tries for a pilot to pull off a successful banner pick. But once it's up in the air it's pretty smooth sailing, with a little extra weight pulling on the back of the plane.

"I can kind of compare it to if you're driving a car you feel like an extra tug if you're towing something on the back of the car," Christopher Labriola, a pilot for High Exposure said. "But when you're flying a plane, it's that much more."

Labriola just completed his flight training. He traded his life in finance to fly and can't wait to take in the view while towing banners at the beach.

"It's beautiful. You have the view of the beach when you're just sitting there of course. But it's 100 times better once you're up there," Labriola said.

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