Northeast News | Letters in the Sky with the Geico Skytyping team

This year’s Kansas City Air Show takes off July 3-4 at the New Century Air Center in Gardner, Kan. Doors open at 9 a.m. on both days with aerial performances starting at 9:30 a.m. Photo by Lexi Garcia

By Lexi Garcia, editorial assistant

This weekend, the GEICO Skytyping Team presents their first Kansas City Airshow at the New Century Air Center in Gardner, Kan.

Tom Daly, a pilot with the GEICO Skytyping team, has been flying with them for over 20 years and has flown all kinds of airplanes throughout his life, including helicopters, single-wing planes and biplanes.

“A friend of mine who is no longer with us helped me learn to fly. I take that from him, but my favorite plane to fly is the one I’m about to fly, ”said Daly, referring to the vintage WWII North American SNJ-2.

Compared to skywriting, the GEICO Skytyping team uses six planes and can write up to 25 characters in less than two minutes.

“Five planes in this particular show, we’re in V-formation,” Daly said. “Three planes stay together, then the other two soloists go and do their thing.”

Together with the GEICO Skytyping team, Daly wrote many messages in the sky and attended a wide variety of events.

“We will be going over the Forest Hills tennis stadium for the US Open, World Series games,” said Daly. “It’s a very effective marketing method and we can reach a few million people at a time, like a big city or a major event. “

Navy SNJs flown by Team Skytyping are WWII military training aircraft that can hold up to 180 gallons of fuel. Photo by Lexi Garcia

The team typically sends 40-50 messages on a regular Saturday afternoon, including proposals, marriages, and even divorces.

“We’re getting the messages out all over town and GEICO is a good company,” Daly said. “They provide us with all of these planes and they do a great job traveling the country having fun.”

Navy SNJs flown by Team Skytyping are WWII military training aircraft that hold up to 180 gallons of fuel, allowing the aircraft to stay airborne for over four hours.

Over 15,000 SNJs, or T-6 Texans as the Army Air Corps called them, were produced for pilot training during the early years of World War II.

“Everyone who flew them is an advanced trainer, they would continue to fly P-51 Mustangs or F4U Corsairs,” Daly said. “For many years when I started out, everywhere we went they were like, ‘I rode one. “”

Despite the obvious risks, Daly is a confident driver.

“People always ask ‘Are you worried?’ But you have to be at a certain place, at a certain time, at a certain speed, so you’re too busy, ”Daly said.

The Skytyping planes all have bluetooth antennas that emit smoke at the same time, which is how they create the characters.

“The central plane has a tablet and it’s programmed and bluetooth and shows other planes when to emit smoke,” Daly said. “The smoke is respectful of the environment and we type between [9,000] and 10,000 feet in the air. You can’t see the planes or hear them, you only see the lines.

For Daly, the great thing about air shows is seeing how kids react and the excitement on their faces.

“Children, we will be visiting schools, hospitals,” Daly said. “This girl said, ‘I want to do this daddy, I think I can do it.’ One of the reasons I like to do it is to spread the good word, to bring the kids here to take a look at this.

Northeast News Intern Lexi Garcia joins Tom Daly for a pre-show flight.

Before Daly joined the skytyping team, he flew helicopters with the Nassau County Police Department in New York City and worked as the dean of the Dowling School of College of Aviation in Oakdale, New York.

Daly is currently an Advisory Advisor to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Western Suffolk BOCES Aviation Program, and Islip-MacArthur Airport, as he resides on Long Island with his family.

“I retired from the police and my life is about having fun,” Daly said. “It’s really fun.”

This year’s Kansas City Air Show takes off July 3-4 at the New Century Air Center in Gardner, Kan. Doors open at 9:00 am on both days with aerial performances starting at 9:30 am For more information, visit the show’s webpage at www.kcairshow.org.




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