Sydney residents looked skywards on Tuesday to find “KIDS NEED DADS” written in 500-metre-high vapour.
The message, the latest in a series of controversial sky signs, sparked heated debate online and across the city.
The phrase itself was also the subject of debate, with many on social media confused as to whether the statement holds anti-lesbian sentiment or is protesting parental alienation.
The man behind the signs, Rob Vance, owns Skywriting Australia, supposedly the nation’s only skywriting business. He’s been commissioning sky signs for individuals, groups and corporations since the 1980s but has only come under public scrutiny in recent years.
During New South Wales’ debate over abortion legislation in 2019, Vance’s sky signs read, “SAVE UNBORN” and “CHOOSE LIFE”.
Late last year, the then President of the United States received another plug when “TRUMP 2020” littered the sky.
However, Vance does not only accept commissions with conservative messages. In June last year, “#BLM” soared overhead as Black Lives Matter protesters marched through Sydney.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Vance conceded he had the final say in which messages would and wouldn’t be accepted.
“[People] always want to do a cock and balls. It’s just not on.”
Vance also rejected a request to write “VOTE YAAASS” during the marriage equality debate in 2017.
“I just said ‘after the way your side’s treated me, I’m not doing anything’.”
Trivia host and founder of DIY Rainbow, James Breko, told Star Observer skywriting needs be regulated like other forms of advertising.
“The government needs to regulate skywriting like they do with all other advertising platforms. If the industry is here to stay, we need a competitive skywriting economy with many players in the market. Otherwise it’s time to shut down a bigoted monopoly.”
However, this change may be out of reach, with skywriting exempt from many of the laws that dictate advertising practises in Australia.