FAA provides report on 2010 banner flights during Masters

More than a year after an open records request was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration for information relating to the airplane that flew banners over Augusta National Golf Club mocking Tiger Woods' sex scandal, the agency has released an initial report that confirms early accounts about the FAA's actions in grounding the airplane.


The report adds few new details to the incident, aside from the name of the pilot who flew the ads over Augusta National during the first day of the 2010 Masters Tournament -- Justin D. Polen.

In the report, Polen is identified as a pilot for Drake Aerial Enterprises LLC, which does business as Air America Aerial Ads based in Genoa, Ohio.

Polen took to the air from Saluda County Airport in South Carolina, about 43 driving miles northeast of Augusta National, in a single-engine Cessna. The flight made several passes over the golf course at different times towing banners that read "Tiger: Did you mean Bootyism?" and "Sex addict? Yeah. Right. Sure. Me too."

In an interview with The Augusta Chronicle last year, Jim Miller, the owner of Air America Aerial Ads, said originally they were supposed to fly five banners but were grounded after only two. At the time, Miller refused to identify the client's name -- saying that the banners were ordered by an advertising agency broker who had most likely been paid by someone else to do so.

After the first two passes over the golf course, FAA officials responded by ordering two agents to go inspect the airplane.

They determined Polen had the proper paperwork to fly but that before the plane could carry more banners it needed repairs involving a seat belt and that it had "several screws missing for (the) engine cowling," according to the report released this month.

Polen told the inspectors that "he really didn't know what the signs read and he thought he was probably going to be on the news," the report said.

Afterward, the plane was flown back to Ohio for repairs. At the time, Miller said he felt his client's free speech rights had been trampled and said he believed the plane's mission was intentionally halted.