Advertising From an Airplane

With all the competition we encounter in gathering an audience, we must use every legitimate method at hand to arrest the attention of the masses.

By MITCHELL R. GARRETT, Pastor, Birmingham, Alabama

In this age of increased scientific knowledge, we often speak of the marvelous inven­tions of the times, many of which are destined to play an increasingly important part in the heralding of God's last message to the world. The airplane has already been used in speed­ing our missionaries and supplies to their destinations, but we believe there is another way in which this machine can aid in gather­ing an audience to hear the solemn truths God has given us. With all the competition we encounter in gathering an audience, we must use every legitimate method at hand to arrest the attention of the masses. In this connec­tion, note this statement from the Spirit of prophecy:

"The Lord has given some ministers the ability to gather and hold large congregations. This calls for the exercise of tact and skill. In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it neces­sary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for caus­ing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. The testing message for this time is to be borne so plainly and decidedly as to startle the hearers, and lead them to desire to study the Scriptures."—"Gospel Workers,” pp. 345, 346.

In a recent tent effort, C. F. Graves and I used a somewhat different method of adver­tising, which greatly helped in drawing un­usually large audiences to our tent meetings. As far as we know, this method is without precedent in the history of the advent move­ment, and perhaps in the history of preach­ing.

We were having fairly good success in gathering an audience, using such usual meth­ods as newspaper advertising and handbills. We also successfully used a public-address system attached to a car, with loud-speakers in the windows. Halfway through the effort, I conceived the idea of using a quicker and more effective method with amplifier and loud­speaker. I thought, If this works on a car, why would it not work faster and more effec­tively on an airplane? I approached a young businessman of the city who owned a plane, and who was a pilot. The young man was interested in my plan at once, and ready to try something different. To avoid any legal complications, we agreed that I should pay only the actual expense of the flight, which was a most reasonable sum for advertising.

We gave the plan a thorough workout over the airport before we began to advertise. The loud-speaker was securely strapped under the wing of the plane, and the portable micro­phone and amplifier were placed inside the cabin, an ordinary storage battery being used for power. With everything in working order we took to the air, playing records on the turntable, then making the announcements. From the first test the plan was a success.

We coordinated our handbill advertising with the airplane advertising by calling atten­tion to the special plane that would be seen late Sunday afternoon. On the hour, Elder Graves and the pilot took off. Elder Graves announced the meetings in short sentences, calling attention to the special services at the big tent and giving the location and time of services. During the broadcast I drove my car around the city under the plane, watching the reaction of the people. In addition to the broadcasting of sacred music and announce­ments, miniature parachutes were scattered over the city. These parachutes can be or­dered or made for three or four cents each. The parachutes required an anchor or weight of an ounce to bring them down. A merchant of the city gladly furnished the desired weights. To this weight was securely tied a brief announcement, which read something like this: "Finder bring this parachute to the Bible Lyceum Tent tonight at seven-thirty, with two or more adults, and receive appro­priate reward." For rewards we gave books and New Testaments. During the song serv­ice, we called for the parachutes, and they came pouring in at the hands of the boys and girls who had retrieved them.

Our first announcement from the plane was : "What is the mark of the beast? Hear Gar­rett at the Lyceum Tent tonight." With a stirring message like that coming from the sky, it is sufficient to say that the whole city was aroused. Up until this announcement was made, our usual Sunday night attendance was about 500. In response to this first air­plane announcement, when the song service started that night more than a thousand peo­ple were sitting and standing, ready for the service. Thereafter we used this method every Sunday afternoon, and when weather was good we never had less than a thousand people. More than seventy-five were baptized as a result of this tent effort.

After several weeks of experimenting we found it best to gain about a thousand-foot elevation, cut motors back, and glide to about three hundred feet, announcing and dropping the parachutes while gliding. While gliding, short announcements like this are best: "Go to Bible Lyceum Tent near post office tonight." "Hear Evangelist Garrett at the Bible Lyceum tonight." "Seven last plagues soon to fall—subject at Bible Lyceum tonight." "Go to Bible Lyceum early tonight for a seat."

I give this word of caution to any who might care to use this advertising method. Ascertain from a local pilot whether any re­strictions are operative against dropping hand­bills and pamphlets from the air. To my knowledge there are no legal barriers against announcing a gospel meeting from the air, provided there are no commercial announce­ments made. The pilot must be licensed to carry passengers.

This has proved to be a most successful and inexpensive method of gathering an audience. God has given us these inventions for a pur­pose. Why not use them to His glory ?


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By MITCHELL R. GARRETT, Pastor, Birmingham, Alabama

June 1940

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