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I want to attach a banner to a UAV like this:

Aircraft with trailing banner

I have two questions:

  • Firstly, is it even possible to fly a UAV like this with the banner visible?
  • What sort of design considerations would I have to take into account when attaching a banner to a UAV?

Briefly sketching forces that act on the banner, we can see that there needs to be two strings connecting to the aircraft at A. There's also no force that directly counters the weight of the banner, but aircraft tend to solve this problem by simply increasing the length of the banner and having the power to overcome the added air resistance.

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    $\begingroup$ Having the string not get caught in the props will be a fun challenge... :) $\endgroup$ – ifconfig May 13 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ As long as the UAV is a plane and it goes forward the whole time, I don't foresee any issues. It should fly the same except have a little more air resistance, but it might not work if the plane is underpowered. $\endgroup$ – Jacob B May 13 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ @JacobB It needn't be a plane; in which case the banner hangs below. It is common with helicopters - see my answer for an example image. $\endgroup$ – Kralc May 13 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Kralc that's interesting. I didn't know that. It just seems more practical to put a banner on a plane. $\endgroup$ – Jacob B May 13 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ @JacobB The revision to the title asking for "can?" might broaden the scope to non-technical things like laws & regulations to be followed regarding flying a banner or unattached things. That's my impression coming from the HNQ though... $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. May 14 at 6:44
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It should be possible so long as the aircraft has enough spare thrust and lift to counteract the drag and weight. Many model aircraft have good power-to-weight compared to their full size equivalent.

  • For the banner attachment, you need a secure point to attach it to the aircraft, well away from any propellers or control surfaces. Usually this is on the bottom rear of the fuselage.
  • It is a good idea to include a 'weak link', which will break if the banner snags; this leaves the banner behind, but saves the aircraft being pulled from the sky.
  • You will also need to weight the banner to hang in the correct orientation - making the vertical part of the banner support bottom heavy should suffice.

You can fly banners from both fixed-wing or rotary wing aircraft, in slightly different ways. Fixed wing banner extends behing the aircraft, whereas on a helicopter or multirotor the banner hangs below. enter image description here Image source

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It is definitely possible to attach a banner to an RC plane. There are many people who have done it and It should be relatively simple. Some things to consider are:

  • Use a very lightweight material for the banner.
  • Make sure you have some support on the banner that prevents it from crumpling vertically. (you can use straws, a wire, or any lightweight rods)
  • You can use a small weight to help keep the banner upright like this:

banner with weight

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