Report: Michigan athletic department paid for skywritten message above Lansing

Courtesy of Georgina De Moya/The State News
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By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 19, 2013

The Athletic Department took trolling to a whole new level.

Thursday, the department admitted it paid for skywritten messages across southeast Michigan that appeared on Friday and Saturday, including one that read “Go Blue” over Spartan Stadium, in East Lansing prior to Michigan State’s game against Youngstown State. MLive originally reported the news Thursday.

Michigan spokesperson Dave Ablauf said the company hired to write messages, OregonAero SkyDancer out of Tucson, Ariz., was not asked to target specific areas.

“We hired the skywriters to canvas southeast Michigan with slogans and numbers prior to our game last Saturday,” Ablauf said to MLive. “That’s all we did. We didn’t target locations.”

Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Lochmann said on Twitter that the athletic department paid for 55 messages at about $100 a piece. Lochmann also said this is the fourth time Oregon Aero SkyDancer has been hired for its services.

One pilot for Oregon Aero SkyDancer, Suzanne Asbury-Oliver, contradicted Ablauf’s statement that the Athletic Department did not set target locations, saying she was asked to hit Lansing.

“Just Lansing — they didn’t say East Lansing,” she said to MLive. “I think that was mid-morning on Saturday. They wanted our last writing to be right before kickoff for their game, which was noon (in Ann Arbor). So I think we were 10 o’clock or something over there.”

Ablauf said that messages ranged from “Go Blue” and “Hail” to a Block ‘M’ and 906, for Michigan’s number of wins.

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis called the act “an irritant” Wednesday, but changed his tone on Thursday.

“There’s no apology necessary,” Hollis said to Mlive. “This is another whimsical episode in a great rivalry.”