Two Navy aviators outraged some and delighted others when they drew a big ol’ contrail sky phallus over an expanse of Washington state in 2017. But recently, some Brits said, “hold my warm beer” and created a GPS flight path portrait of Queen Elizabeth II over the skies of England.
Six civilian aircraft and 12 crewmembers from the Light Aircraft Association’s Wessex Strut used 365 unique headings to create the image over southwest England, according to a release from the group.
Unlike the Navy Sky Penis artist, none of the crewmembers knew what they were drawing as they headed out on different flight paths, generating a series of unusual shapes over the course of several months that eventually rendered England’s number one royal.
Aircraft involved in the effort included the Zenair Zodiac, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL, Cessna 150 and 150 Aerobat, Vans RV6 and even a Beagle Pup.
“None of them had any idea what the final image would look like – each team was given a small, unrecognisable chunk which, when flown, recorded on SkyDemon [aircraft GPS software] and sent back would be stitched together digitally to form the final image,” Amy Whitewick, a local pilot and team lead for “Art Force 1,” said the press release.
The idea first came to Whitewick in 2020, when she started to render GPS sky images via her 1972 Cessna 150 Aerobat, including a GPS portrait of pioneering aviator John Stringfellow.
It took Whitewick about 10 hours to plot out the various flight paths.
“It was a fun skill to try out when flying the local area,” she said. “I was bored of bimbling (Brit-speak for walking or traveling at a leisurely pace) and wanted to start something exciting and new.”
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.