Pilot leaves messages in the skies A giant heart hangs in the sky at sunset after skywriter Nathan Hammond wrote several days-worth of messages, relating to hope and love, over New Orleans, during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (AP photos)
Pilot leaves messages in the skies
Lexile

High above New Orleans, a small plane rolled in tight barrels. Behind it trailed smoke. The aircraft was creating inspirational messages in the sky. They included smiley faces, peace signs and hearts. There were also words like "jazz" and "amen."

Then, in a true testament of flying ability, the airplane even spelled out "transform."

Over seven days of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the skywriter inscribed the smoky messages. They captivated the hundreds of thousands gathered below. All before the smoke gradually faded away.

New Orleans entrepreneur Frank Scurlock conceived the idea. He hired skywriter Nathan Hammond. It was Hammond's job to pen the fanciful, fleeting art.

Scurlock's family runs a bounce castle manufacturing and rental company. He said the messages were simply his way of reminding people that goodness can still flourish in the world. Too often, he believes, the world is increasingly marred by violence.

"This is just a simple way for people to just look up in the sky and say 'Wow, what a great world that we live in,'" he said. "And a chance to believe. And have faith in not only today but in the future."

Hammond flew his plane down from Kentucky for Jazz Fest. The event ran for seven days. It was over the course of two weekends.

"We're out here just kind of spreading the love, over the top of New Orleans," Hammond said. He said he generally does commercial work for a company or an event. Occasionally, he receives a request to write a marriage proposal in the sky. But Scurlock's request was different. The entrepreneur hired him for 10 days. Hammond made three flights a day.

Hammond has to keep his wits about him when he's flying. That's because his plane is traveling in tight loops or barrels. He estimates the letters to be about a mile tall. Some can stretch up to 10 miles. It all depends on the message. And he has to be able to spell correctly, of course.

On the ground, festival-goers were transfixed.

"I've seen him all week. I've taken pictures of him every single day and enjoyed him and wondered who did it. Every time they would start a word, we'd try to figure it out before they finished what it is," Mary Mouton of New Orleans said.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is Nathan Hammonds work referred to as fleeting art?

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COMMENTS (8)
  • TaylorM-Kut
    5/13/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    i think that this would inspire people and make there day a whole lot better.Imagine seeing little quotes in the sky in the morning that say have a good day.

  • emrar-boo
    5/19/2015 - 11:23 a.m.

    Nathan Hammond's work is referred to as fleeting art because it happens really fast and doesn't last as long as someone would want it to.

  • alivial-Pay
    5/20/2015 - 10:24 a.m.

    I think this is pretty cool that a person can sky write. I have never herd anything about sky writing.

  • waylied-Pay
    5/20/2015 - 10:52 a.m.

    I like this article,because i never knew that a person could sky write.I think it's pretty awesome that someone could sky write.I didn't think that a person that could sky write would be on a commercial show.

  • alivial-Pay
    5/20/2015 - 10:57 a.m.

    I think that a person that can sky write is pretty cool.And it is pretty cool that a person could sky write.I have seen it before but i have never herd of this kind of sky writing before.

  • william1108-yyca
    6/16/2015 - 08:22 p.m.

    It I so cool. it is so cool how people write messages in the sky for a lot of people. But I wonder how long the smoke trail stays But I also wonder how the smoke just stays it doesn't blow away. Also I wonder what kind of smoke they use to make the messages. But later I will lean. So that's it.

  • Camilamuoz
    7/09/2015 - 05:51 p.m.

    In the sky of New Orleans it was planning an airplane leaving smoke behind it. It was creating messages in the sky, like smiley faces and hearts. A New Orleans entrepreneur, Frank Scurlock, conceived the idea and hired the skywriter Nathan Hammond. Scurlocks family say that the messages were his way of reminding people that there is still goodness in the world. The entrepreneur hired him for 10 days. Hammond made three flights a day for Jazz Fest. Some people took pictures of the beautiful messages every single day. I think this is a very innovative way to show people how simple things like messages in the air can make happy the someone's day. Hammond's work is referred like "fleeting art" because this art is momentary, comes and goes, disappears into the sky.

  • isaacr-pay
    1/11/2016 - 10:30 a.m.

    That is so cool!!

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