Friday, June 07, 2013

Paramount Air Service: From beer brands to casinos, clients use banner planes -- Paramount Airfield (JY04), Green Creek, New Jersey

Barbara Tomalino's company has 12 Piper Cubs pulling ads from Cape May Point to Sandy Hook.  

WILDWOOD CREST — When he lived across the street from the beach in Wildwood Crest, Mike Vicario watched planes fly outside his house dragging banner ads behind them.

In the past two years, one of the banner ads touted Tony Luke’s in Wildwood, where Vicario serves as vice president. Vicario couldn’t be happier.

“It feels great to see stuff up there, you know?”

In their long history, banner planes have become an iconic part of the Jersey Shore.

“They get people talking, reaching so many at the shore,” said Barbara Tomalino, owner of the Rio Grande-based Paramount Air Service. The company has 12 Piper Cubs pulling ads from Cape May Point to Sandy Hook.

“One of the reasons the banners are so effective is because it’s human nature to look towards that sound in the air.”

The ads get results for Tony Luke’s, according to Vicario.

“People come to our window and say they saw the banner in North Wildwood. You have a captive audience that has nothing to do but look up at the plane flying by.”

Believed to be the nation’s oldest and largest aerial advertising firm, Paramount began flying up and down Cape May County beachfronts in 1945. Tomalino’s father, Andre Tomalino, a glider pilot during World War II, launched the service after purchasing a surplus plane.

In 1966, he expanded the business into Atlantic County by buying Atlantic City Aerial Service. Today, the company flies out of its own air strip along the Delaware Bay and out of Lakewood for the northern coastal runs. While Paramount still uses the standard letter banners, others can carry large panels or even include photos.

“One year, Borgata had a picture of a handful of chefs when they were opening new restaurants,” Tomalino recalled.

Clients appeal to beachgoers, but not necessarily because they’re seashore tourist attractions such as Tony Luke’s or Borgata. Universities, job recruiters, national brands such as Xfinity and Miller Light and health care firms have signed on as advertisers.

One banner carried notice of a lost cat.

“The fun part is getting personal banners like wedding proposals,” noted Tomalino, who has owned and operated Paramount since 1985. Among her myriad duties, she handles all sales and flight schedules.

“I have a say when I would like to see the banner fly within an hour window,” added Vicario, who prefers flights around lunch time.

In addition to a dozen pilots, Paramount hires summer employees to produce the banners, set them up for pilots, maintain the planes and staff the office. Planes fly until the end of September, a little later for special events. During the off-season, Tomalino said she heads south to sail.

“A lot of pilots love sailing too.”

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