Plane flying banners catches FAA's attention

Inspectors plan to check credentials

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The Federal Aviation Administration wants to have a word with the pilot who flew over Augusta National on Thursday, trailing banners poking fun at Tiger Woods' sex scandal.

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Tiger Woods waits to putt on the third green as a plane tows a banner over Augusta National Golf Club during the first round of the Masters.  Rob Carr/Associated Press
Rob Carr/Associated Press
Tiger Woods waits to putt on the third green as a plane tows a banner over Augusta National Golf Club during the first round of the Masters.

The agency is sending two aviation safety inspectors to meet with the pilot of the single-engine Cessna and the company behind the stunt, apparently an aerial advertiser from Ohio.

Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman, said the agency received calls about the banners and would send inspectors to check whether the pilot and company had appropriate credentials.

"We will ensure that the operator had banner-towing authorization for that area," she said.

The plane displayed two banners at different times. The first said: "Tiger: Did you mean Bootyism?" The second read: "Sex addict? Yeah. Right. Sure. Me too."

Bergen said "the FAA does not regulate messages on the banners, period. The FAA's role is related to aviation safety."

She said there's no airspace restriction over Augusta National, but because of increased flights in and out of local airports during the Masters, the FAA issues a non-mandatory advisory asking pilots not to fly within two nautical miles of the tournament and not below 2,500 feet in that area.

Judging from reports the agency received, Bergen said, the plane appeared to be flying at the appropriate altitude.

Thursday afternoon, Bergen said she didn't yet have the pilot's name or know which airport the plane flew from, but the agency thought the plane was owned by an Ohio-based company.

Several factors pointed toward Air America Aerial Ads in Genoa, Ohio.

Workers at Aiken Municipal Airport said that a week ago they turned down an out-of-town man's request to fly a plane with a banner from their airport, presumably toward the Masters Tournament.

The same workers said the man told them he planned to fly a total of six banners. The workers, who refused to give their names, identified the man as Jim Miller.

Reached on his cell phone Thursday, Miller refused to comment, but said, "I'm about to get in an airplane to do some towing right now." That was after the appearance of the first banner and before the second.

The voice mail message on Miller's cell phone says he works for Air America Aerial Ads.

A secretary for the company would not say whether the company was involved in the banner stunt, and referred questions to Miller; the secretary said Miller is company president.

The secretary, who also refused to give her name, said the company only flies banners at the request of paying clients.

As for what airport the plane used, Becky Shealy, the director of marketing for Augusta Aviation at Daniel Field Airport, said: "Nobody took off out of this airport with a banner behind their aircraft."

Diane Johnston, the marketing director for Augusta Regional Airport, said the same.

Comments (38) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 04/09/10 - 02:10 am
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The power yielded by the

The power yielded by the Augusta National will never cease to amaze me. Their dominion apparently reaches into the heavens.

Trey Enfantay
9
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Trey Enfantay 04/09/10 - 02:23 am
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I'm still laughing. What an

I'm still laughing. What an idea!

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/09/10 - 02:26 am
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Becky Shealy?? Is that the

Becky Shealy?? Is that the same Becky Shealy of the Goshen Stimulus Saga Fame??

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 04/09/10 - 02:38 am
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My friends and I wanted to

My friends and I wanted to get some baby-doll T-shirts made up for women that said "Tiger, Text Me" on them. Sell them on Wash Rd. during the tourney. But the idea came too late to get them printed.

Bears
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Bears 04/09/10 - 04:13 am
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Ok it is far past time to

Ok it is far past time to lets all grow up. Tiger has done nothing more than about 95% other men have already done, but because he is Tiger Woods his whole life has been turned upside down. I do agree what he done to his family was so wrong, but let it go. People are acting like children know. If his wife has gone on and forgiven him why come everybody else can't. NOBODY has the power to judge the next individual except GOD. Forgive and Forget. I truly hope Tiger wins the Master's and he really shouldn't have a problem doing it since it seems like he is the only one playing or atleast thats the way everybody is acting. Good luck to all the golfers.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 04/09/10 - 04:46 am
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95% Bears? I think I'd put

95% Bears? I think I'd put the maturity rate a little higher than that. It seems to me that almost no one on the ground knew what the banners said and if not for this article, and radio comments, the stunt would have remained a secret. Do you really think Tiger spends his time staring up at the sky trying to read flying banners? Because of the promotion from the media, someone will now make sure Tiger knows what the banners said, or their version of what they said. The prankster will get his money's worth because of the free promotion.

Riverman1
83776
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Riverman1 04/09/10 - 04:59 am
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I wonder if Billy Payne paid

I wonder if Billy Payne paid for it? :)

justus4
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justus4 04/09/10 - 05:14 am
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Nothing will happen to the
Unpublished

Nothing will happen to the pilot and no charges will be filed. The violation will become a warning and this nut will get named somewhere. Nothing new here...

avidreader
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avidreader 04/09/10 - 06:57 am
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Confederate, I don't get it!

Confederate, I don't get it! Unless I'm missing something in the above-posts, Justus makes no mention of black people. What is the motivation for your comments? Apparently, you "haven't took advantage" of reading thoroughly.

fish2
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fish2 04/09/10 - 07:00 am
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Saw the airplane circle

Saw the airplane circle around Edgefield Airport yesterday. J4 are you assuming the pilot is white---I wonder why.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 07:43 am
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Fat chance the FAA has of
Unpublished

Fat chance the FAA has of enforcing non-mandatory rules. What a joke. Even their bona fide regulations are rarely enforceable unless a pilot agrees to talk to them. Federal Aviation Rules are basically a joke unless an accident occurs, and have minor deterrent value otherwise. Poor excuse for a bureaucracy.

mable8
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mable8 04/09/10 - 07:41 am
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The pilot and the messenger

The pilot and the messenger are a couple of pea-brained dolts; most likely they have had affairs but it isn't known to the public yet. Tiger's personal problems are not public domain--so people need to leave him alone. Most of the loud-mouthed louts who are pointing fingers at those they think have done something wrong are usually guilty of the same infraction and would sue the world if the fingers were pointed at them.

Brad Owens
4423
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Brad Owens 04/09/10 - 07:42 am
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You mess with the Augusta

You mess with the Augusta National and you are messing with the single largest private collection of powerful people in the world.

Sounds like a frat prank to me.

Brad

confederate american
0
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confederate american 04/09/10 - 07:46 am
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avidreader-everything justus4

avidreader-everything justus4 puts out is all about black people if he doesn't say it out right,all you have to do is read between the lines and the chroncile montior lets him get away with it and flags anyone who will stand up to it.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 07:46 am
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C'mon, Brad, you've been
Unpublished

C'mon, Brad, you've been reading too much DiVinci Code.

Trey Enfantay
9
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Trey Enfantay 04/09/10 - 07:48 am
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The Urban Dictionary made an

The Urban Dictionary made an "interesting" choice for today's featured word:

http://list.urbandictionary.com/t/9437974/66043677/29725/0/

Indigo
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Indigo 04/09/10 - 08:05 am
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Brad is right on this one.

Brad is right on this one. The AN is packed full of very powerful folks. When the cell phone company put up a tower that could be "seen" from the course, the AN had the top section of the tower removed. It happened in a matter of hours, not days or weeks.

Everyone thinks the National is host to a little Benign golf tourney each year. Wrong, the place is crawling with power, and they inflict their reign in Augusta all year long.

They OWN Augusta.

scoobynews
3854
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scoobynews 04/09/10 - 08:09 am
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I hope they had the "proper

I hope they had the "proper autherization to tow" and then shove this one in Augusta National's face - FREEDOM OF SPEECH - which is of a higher power - the Constitution. I don't care for Tiger or the National one way or the other their holier than thou attitude is what ticks me off. When you make your self a celebrity it all comes with the game. You don't like it then get a real job.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 08:10 am
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Sure, the AN has more than a
Unpublished

Sure, the AN has more than a fair share of influential members compared to the average private club, but has their share of drunks and sexual peccadillo artists too, I am sure, which they strive to conceal. If the membership were gravely upset with his behavioral implications, they would simply have refused Wood's participation in this year's tournament. They did not, and are obviously not hypocritical in the process.

Whyisit
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Whyisit 04/09/10 - 08:16 am
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Tiger is rich he's not even

Tiger is rich he's not even thinking about stunts like that. Seems everybody want's their 15 minutes.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 08:16 am
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Though more altruistic than
Unpublished

Though more altruistic than most, AN is first and foremost a business.

Casting_Fool
1133
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Casting_Fool 04/09/10 - 08:38 am
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"Bears" wrote: "... Tiger has

"Bears" wrote: "... Tiger has done nothing more than about 95% other men have already done, but because he is Tiger Woods..." 95%? You must hang out with some real dirt bags, "Bears". Staying faithful is a choice that a lot of men make and keep for their entire lives. Tiger Woods has money, influence, fame and a beautiful wife. He's a sports hero, and that places him in a position of a role model for millions of men. It's not okay to screw around. It shows a lack of character, a disregard for your own health as well as the health of your wife, and sets a bad example for those who look up to you. Guys like the husbands of Hallie Berry & Sandra Bullock, and now Tiger Woods, are examples of how stupid guys can be when they don't truly care about their wives. I'm still shaking my head over the Hallie Berry incident. My God, man! You're married to Hallie Berry!!! Then Jessie does the "dumb-dumb-tiddley-winkey" thing on Sandra. What?! You cheated on that million dollar baby? What a loser. And had I been present at the accident, I'd have been caddying for Erin. "Would you like a driver or a sand wedge after that 9 iron, my dear?" Men need to stop making excuses and start keeping it in their pants. You choose to get married, now stay faithful. Or maybe your wife should keep a 9 iron handy...

CyndiCk
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CyndiCk 04/09/10 - 08:45 am
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I bet his wife was behind it!

I bet his wife was behind it! Bootyism! Ha ha! Gotta love it!

shockproof
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shockproof 04/09/10 - 08:54 am
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Actually, this is the best

Actually, this is the best piece of news that has come out of Augusta in a long time. I wonder if the plane flies over again, are they going to call in the F-14's from Warner Robbins. Man, oh, man, what I would give for a voice recording of the pilot and whom ever he talked to while "doing his thing"....it was a brilliant, expensive and gutsy poke at TW.

Msmamm
13
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Msmamm 04/09/10 - 09:02 am
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Oh c'mon folks, is it really

Oh c'mon folks, is it really this serious? Who cares if someone wants to spend their money and time flying a banner over AN that nobody could read or cared about! I just want to see some great golf!! Let's get over it already! He didn't cheat on anyone but his wife ... why are we taking it so personally??

Chillen
17
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Chillen 04/09/10 - 09:08 am
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The last time I checked

The last time I checked freedom of speech was still allowed in this country. As long as the FAA cleared him to fly there is nothing here to investigate except Tiger's embarrassment which I could care less about.

Stop wasting tax payer money with an FAA investigation.

easy breezy
14
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easy breezy 04/09/10 - 09:26 am
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I'm not a huge fan of Tiger

I'm not a huge fan of Tiger Woods only because his actions speak louder than words. Granted he is probably one of the best, if not the best, golfer in history. I think this was very immature and unproffessional of the pilot and the person who came up with the scheme.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 09:26 am
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General aviation flights do
Unpublished

General aviation flights do not need to be 'cleared' by the FAA.

Riverman1
83776
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Riverman1 04/09/10 - 09:34 am
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AN is a business? News to me.

AN is a business? News to me. They are not in this for the money. the place closes down for the summer. The members pay dues and the TV and other money goes to run the tournament and keep the course perfect. They spent tens of millions to create the greenspace parking lot. If they have money left over they give it to charity. Matter of fact, members are not chosen because they are wealthy, but because of their altruism. Let's get a dose of realism if we are thinking they are trying to make a buck.

Chillen
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Chillen 04/09/10 - 09:35 am
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fd1962. If that is true then

fd1962. If that is true then why is the FAA even involved "investigating" this? What a waste of tax payer money. The whole country is going nuts.

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