Mark Jefferies, whose family runs Little Gransden airfield in Cambridgeshire, took to the skies recently to make his tribute to the NHS for their sterling work in looking after those affected by Covid-19.
With lockdown restrictions eased to allow light aircraft to return to the sky, Mark, an accomplished aerobatic pilot and a member of the Global Stars display team, decided he wanted to use the airspace to make a number of unique vapour trail messages and tributes.
Not only did he draw smiley faces in the sky to mark the NHS Clap for Carers, he also did the same for the Knighthood of Captain Tom Moore. However, he did admit he hadn’t planned to write Captain Tom’s name until the last minute.
When asked about the specific display, Mark said: “‘I hadn’t planned to write Captain Tom’s name until the last minute. He did an astounding job and I popped up to do a smiley face for him.”
The images are created at an altitude of two miles using two gallons of cosmetic baby oil to create vapour trails from his Extra 330SC light aircraft. Each heart can be a kilometre (3,300ft) wide and must be above the inversion layer of the atmosphere where the air is still.
With the aviation sector particularly hard hit by the pandemic, Mark is also hoping his displays will help to inspire children to develop an interest in and love of aviation.
When asked about his motivation to do the displays, Mark said: “Covid-19 has had a hugely damaging cascade effect through the aviation industry.
“An aircraft taking off is only the pinnacle – from cleaners to security, air traffic control and fuel supplies, every aspect you can think of has diminished. We need to be back in the air.”