Pilot for aerial ad company arrested after flying over Oahu

Published: Jul. 21, 2014 at 6:34 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 22, 2014 at 12:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pilot for Aerial Banners was arrested Monday following a lengthy stand-off between the company and Honolulu City officials.

At issue is the company's practice of flying advertisements in Oahu's airspace - a move that is prohibited by law in Hawaii.Aerial Banners maintains, it has a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration and claims changes to federal rules trump local and state laws. They also believe it is a free speech issue.

But the Mayor says the FAA has already sided with the city and several court rulings do too.

Last week Friday, city officials along with local law enforcement came together to step up efforts to stop Aerial Banners from flying ads over Oahu. They asked residents to call 911 if they witnessed the plane flying banners.

Monday, an Aerial Banners plane was spotted flying with a message that read, "Advertising isn't just for politicians."

"They hate every outdoor sign, unless it's their sign," says Michael McAllister, the attorney for Aerial Banners who says Hawaii politicians spend thousands of dollars and litter campaign signs in neighborhoods, but don't allow companies to do the same to advertise products.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the law is clear, political signs are permitted, and aerial ones are prohibited by law.

Jong Galicinao, a Waipahu resident, says he doesn't mind the flying advertisements, "I like it, it's freedom of expression, it's one of our rights," he says.

Mayor Caldwell says the banners are disrespectful to Hawaii's laws and the land.

"Pollute the vision of this place, by flying these gigantic banners along our most beautiful places in the state, along our beaches and mountains. It's outrageous and we're going to keep coming down hard on them," says Mayor Caldwell.

"You've got a Mayor who clearly uses the power of the police to his advantage," says Bob Benyo, the owner of Aerial Banners.

Matthew Radeck was arrested after landing at Dillingham Airfield. He has since bailed out. He is the same pilot who was given the citation after flying an American Flag over Oahu on the Fourth of July.

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