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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CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 04/09/10 - 08:47 am
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OK folks - obviously the

OK folks - obviously the banners WERE readable or the story would have never been told. I'm surprised that no one took Billy Payne to task for his remarks; I'm not defending Tiger Woods in his dalliances with whomever BUT he did NOT set HIMSELF up as a role model - in general those are "chosen" by public adoration. Humans should never be elevated to pedestals of adoration yet it happens all the time; when they fail, there is a hue and cry about letting down those for whom they have been "elected" to be a role model. As for the remark about the language on the banners being covered by the U S Constitution under the free speech clause, have you not heard that the president and congress have suspended the constitution? If you've been in this country for the past fifteen months you must surely know that. Who at the tournament could possibly see and read the banners? Well if you've ever been to a football game @ Sanford Stadium in Athens you know that planes bearing banners fly over all the time and they are certainly readable. In reality this is a non-story; no harm was done; I doubt that Tiger's feelings were hurt because he's already run the gamut of things that can be said about him; and the prestige of the Masters Tournament was not threatened except by those who INVITED Tiger to play there and then bashed him FOR being there. Why all the anger against the Augusta National? This one tournament brings untold dollars in the coffers of Augustans including those who rent their homes at exorbitant prices. Sports events do that you know, cause disruption of the flow of traffic while bringing in much needed money. So move along folks, there's nothing to see here.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 08:55 am
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Sorry, Riverman. Guess I
Unpublished

Sorry, Riverman. Guess I wasn't convinced yet that the AN is actually a religion instead of a business.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/09/10 - 08:57 am
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Chillen, my sympathies
Unpublished

Chillen, my sympathies exactly.

Lorraine
150
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Lorraine 04/09/10 - 08:58 am
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It is apparent that these

It is apparent that these banners have caused no adverse effects to Tiger's golf game at the Masters yesterday. What a waste of banners. In fact, Tiger's golf game was better the first day in comparison with the first day in previous years.

CyndiCk
0
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CyndiCk 04/09/10 - 11:48 am
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Edgefield has a airport?

Edgefield has a airport? Wow, I lived there for 16 years and never saw it. I know there's one in Trenton and one in Saluda.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 04/09/10 - 12:11 pm
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Is this thing over yet??

Is this thing over yet?? Please wake me when it is

baronvonreich
1
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baronvonreich 04/09/10 - 01:50 pm
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The pilot violated no FAA

The pilot violated no FAA rules. The FAA is just succumbing to complaints from Augusta National instead of standing up for the rights of American citizens. Imagine that....the government not giving a rat's behind about the rights of Americans.

showboat
369
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showboat 04/09/10 - 04:51 pm
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Billy Payne did it, with the
Unpublished

Billy Payne did it, with the way he did little talk on tv yesterday,itwas like he was speaking to his kids, some people think that they can talk about you anyway because of a little power, need to be remove from chairman of the master.

Belva
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Belva 04/09/10 - 05:38 pm
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First time I've ever posted a

First time I've ever posted a comment on a website, and I'm not into golf or celebrity hype or scandal. But allow me to say reading all the other comments was the best laugh I've had in a while. There's some real wit in these people, and more than a little edification. Between the slights on bad grammar and those not standing for the "95%," all your comments were a good read. Thanks. I'm still laughing.

backagain
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backagain 04/09/10 - 05:45 pm
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Cliff Johnson,why do you
Unpublished

Cliff Johnson,why do you insist on being Insolent.You know and i know everyone out there was reading that overhead banner.Your insouciant remarks annoy me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Martinez
154
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Martinez 04/09/10 - 07:19 pm
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Showboat - A little power?

Showboat - A little power? Maybe you didn't read this article..... looks like the Master's is controlling the FAA these days.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 04/09/10 - 08:02 pm
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Another reason to be made at

Another reason to be made at Billy Payne is that he didn't stand up for Augusta when he was head of the Atlanta Olympic Committee and Augusta Natl was considered as the Olympic Golf Venue.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 04/09/10 - 09:49 pm
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Riverman, I had no idea that

Riverman, I had no idea that the Augusta National was a nonprofit. I wonder if I can write off all those T-shirts on my taxes.

BobWa43
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BobWa43 04/09/10 - 10:22 pm
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My question is why is the FAA

My question is why is the FAA sending "two investigators" to check the creditials of this pilot? If the banner had saud TW is a jolly good fellow would the response have been the same? Are our government agencies the lapdogs of the rich and powerful? If course they are.

Suzy Q
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Suzy Q 04/09/10 - 11:00 pm
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I doubt that altruism is the

I doubt that altruism is the steam that powers the AN (as some have suggested). The news has said repeatedly that Woods brings in the money at the tournaments, and the AN knows it. Payne's speech was ridiculous, and I wonder what would be found should anyone start poking around in his (or any member of the AN) closet.
If they felt it was appropriate to have him at the tournament Payne should have shut his yap regarding Tiger's personal business. The fly-over 'investigation' borders on the ridiculous. The AN may have a stranglehold on what happens behind the gates, but trying to control the skies will bring the kind of attention they really don't want.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/10/10 - 07:27 am
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NOW the FAA is saying they
Unpublished

NOW the FAA is saying they initiated the fly-over 'investigation' on their own, and that no individual or group had registered a complaint. Even the FAA is covering for the thin-skinned Augusta National now - and surely no coincidence. That's some pimento cheese sandwich of a claim to swallow, even for us provincial Augustans, (except for the three Augusta residents who actually belong to the sacred club, of course), altruism smokescreen or not.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 04/10/10 - 07:43 am
0
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Next for the AN cross-hairs
Unpublished

Next for the AN cross-hairs will certainly be their neighbor, Augusta Country Club, who had the temerity to rent space for ESPN to erect a TV tower which can 'spy' onto a portion of the hallowed Augusta National grounds. What sacrilege! They need to be punished to the full extent of altruistic powers.

Fiat_Lux
16445
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Fiat_Lux 04/10/10 - 11:05 am
0
0
I can't help but laugh at the

I can't help but laugh at the comments about Billy Payne, as if he or any other member of the National would bother to spare one thought about public opinion concerning the National, its policies or its practices unless they were threatened with obstruction or disruption in the pursuit of their perfectly legal and extremely desirable functions.

As yet, we have no idea who is behind either the banner towing nor the FAA investigation. Both Tiger and the people running the tournament knew ahead of time to expect some public backlash and snarky taunts. Big deal and so what.

If rich and powerful men use their money and influence to turn a neighborhood into a park with the consent of neighborhood property owners, who are any of us to complain? They could hardly have been more generous to the sellers.

And if, at a PRIVATE function, they take one of their "main event" participants to task for contemptible, immoral behavior, well, it's their club and their event. Nobody forced Tiger to be there, and I'd bet anything that he got plenty of warning ahead of time to expect a public dressing down from Billy Payne.

I know it's hard for many Augustans to relate to this, but people of Payne's stature and standing generally don't spring something like that on an invited guest without first giving them the option of taking a pass on it. Such consideration goes with the territory of being a class act.

And it's to Tiger's credit that he took it like a man.

seenitB4
98541
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seenitB4 04/10/10 - 11:15 am
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LUX... you are 100%

LUX... you are 100% correct..Tiger did take it like a man.

backagain
0
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backagain 04/10/10 - 02:57 pm
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Suzy Q,you have been so
Unpublished

Suzy Q,you have been so disagreeable,but i must admit you are right,its painful to admit but you hit the nail on the head.I guarantee no one else got it.I give you an Apoligy for misunderstanding you.You and i are 100% on the same page.You go Girl!!!!!!!

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 04/15/10 - 08:47 am
0
0
If you flip a cop a bird as

If you flip a cop a bird as you drive by, you'd better make sure your seatbelt is fastened, you're not speeding, and your taillights work. Same goes for the FAA. :-)

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