HOUSTON - KHOU 11 was showing its love for the Houston Astros high above the team’s World Series victory parade on Friday, flying a banner that read “KHOU 11 Stands with the Astros”.
The parade was not only a dream come true for hundreds of thousands of fans on the ground, but also for employees and the operator at the Pearland-based company flying the banner, Nighthawk Aerial Advertising.
Stuart Williams, the company’s operator, has been an Astros fan since the 1970s. He says seeing the Astros take home the title was a lifelong dream.
“My grandmother and I used to listen to it on the radio,” said Williams. “That was our thing. She lived ‘til she was 98 years old, and the last week that she was alive, she said to me, she goes, ‘Just please live long enough in order to see the Astros win the World Series’. We did it.”
Williams also had a message to the Astros team: “From my grandmother, thank you so much.” he said.
Williams said he loved the idea of incorporating KHOU 11’s “Stands with” slogan with the Astros, and he turned down the opportunity to fly five other ads over the parade to make it happen.
To get the banner in the air, Williams says the plane swoops between two PVC pipes at between 95 to 100 miles per hour with a grappling hook just eight to 10 feet below.
Once it hooks onto the banner, it “peels it off the ground like an accordion”.
Williams helped with the set-up on the ground, but the lucky one flying the plane was Joseph Matta, a native Houstonian who’s been an Astros fan for 15 years.
Matta was at Minute Maid Park with a crowd of more than 17,000 others when he watched the Astros win the title in Game 7.
“I got a call the next morning that said, ‘Get to work on Friday and get ready to tow,'” said Matta. “I was super excited when I found out it was for the parade.”
Just before climbing into the plane two hours before the parade start time, Matta said the magnitude of what was about to happen still hadn’t hit him and probably wouldn’t until “maybe next week.”