Michael McAllister, the attorney for Aerial Banners North, says the company will keep flying banners over Oahu even though the company’s pilot was arrested Monday.
“It is difficult to keep asking the pilot to fly after he has been arrested but we intend to continue to fly banners,” McAllister says.
McAllister says the company’s pilot was arrested at Dillingham Air Field Monday afternoon after he towed a banner across Oahu beaches that read: “Advertising isn’t just for politicians.”
Police arrested the pilot after he touched down to refuel at Dillingham Airfield before the pilot had time to pick up a new banner to fly, McAllister said.
The pilot posted $100 bail and was released, police said. (Correction: An earlier version of this story quoted McAllister as saying the pilot posted $500 bail.)
Marti Townsend, the executive director of the Outdoor Circle, says: “It is unfortunate that the pilot was arrested but Aerial Banners North put the pilot in that situation and now he will have to suffer the consequences.”
The Outdoor Circle was the first organization to bring Aerial Banners flights to the attention of the mayor and the police.
Townsend says she applauds Mayor Kirk Caldwell for enforcing Honolulu’s ordinance that forbids all aerial advertising including aerial political statements such as the one flown by the pilot Monday.
On Friday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro warned Aerial Banners North that if continued to fly banners it would face the full force of the law.
Kaneshiro also issued a penal summons to Aerial Banners.
At Friday’s news conference, the mayor told residents to call 911 if they say the pilot flying banners again.
Residents didn’t have long to wait long. About six hours after the Friday news conference, Aerial Banners’ pilot was back in the skies again, towing a sign saying “Marry me, Rachel” across Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Hawaii Kai.
McAllister said Rachel was impressed and agreed to marry the company’s client who he would only identify as Paul.
“They were super enthusiastic,” says McAllister. “They said love is in the air.”
Aerial Banners towed its first banner over Oahu on Memorial Day weekend. It was a large American flag. The company flew banners again on July 4.
The pilot arrested today is the same pilot Honolulu police cited for flying the banners July 4.
HPD says the pilot was arrested rather than cited this time because he is a repeat offender. The law allows police to either cite or arrest.
Aerial Banners insists a Federal Aviation Administration waiver allows it to fly banners in every state including Hawaii.
But the FAA has clarified that the waiver does not supersede Hawaii’s state and county laws, which forbid “outdoor, off-premise advertising.”
Off premise means any outdoor advertising that is done away from the business itself, and that includes aerial advertising.
On Monday, the acting chief counsel of the FAA, Patricia A. McNall, faxed a letter to Caldwell to confirm “Honolulu law is not pre-empted by federal law or regulation.”
Honolulu’s aerial-sign ban ordinance has been challenged twice in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and has been upheld each time.
But Aerial Banners insists that only the federal government can control the skies, not counties or states.
McAllister said Monday’s banner — “Advertising isn’t just for politicians” — is to point out that “the mayor and the prosecutor are hypocritical because they claim to value the visual beauty of Hawaii yet during election years they put their advertising signs all over town.”
“Politicians shouldn’t have a monopoly on advertising,” he said.
Caldwell was not available to comment but his spokesman, Jesse Broder Van Dyke, said, “Political signs and storefront signs within certain size and other limitations are allowed in Honolulu under the law.”
Political campaign signs are permitted in Hawaii as long as they are posted on private residential property.
Van Dyke repeated what the mayor, the prosecutor and the police chief stressed Friday: “Aerial advertising is against the law. Violators will be cited or arrested and prosecuted.”