Banners Spark Controversy at Panama City Beach

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PANAMA CITY BEACH -- Spring break is officially here and if you head over to the beach you can already see people hanging out. There's also something else that might catch your eye: planes flying banners displaying some controversial messages.

Banner planes are nothing new in our area. Some people do have mixed feelings about some of these flying messages and how or if the city should regulate it.

Spring break is just starting. That means several more weeks of students packing our beaches. While the breakers are soaking up some sun they will also be soaking in advertisements flying above them.

One in particular is causing some controversy: The Trojan advertisement banner.

Bay Co. Commissioner District 5 Mike Thomas said, "People do complain about that Trojan has done that for several years here. People complain about it every year. We check with attorneys every year to see if they’re is anything we can do about it and they tell us no."

Panama City Beach mayor Gayle Oberst has already gotten calls about the advertisement.

"We really cannot control it there's nothing that we can do about it. We just when we get an opportunity we express to the operators of those planes how we feel about it," Oberst said.

Some people have a different opinion.
Visitor Ron Robinson said, "Makes sense for somebody to take an initiative to advertise a product they know those guys are probably gonna use a lot of."

Some of these banner planes fly out of the northwest Florida Beaches Airport.
Airport officials say they have to have a signed agreement between the airport and the flight operator.

Executive Director. NW Fl. Beaches Airport Parker McClellan said, "All those agreements go to our airport authority meeting for confirmation by the board. But it really is just a basic understanding of operating at the airport and some of the specific requirements that we have to ensure that it's a safe operation."

Panama City Beach officials say the advertisements fall under freedom of speech. As long as the flyer has a permit they can display what they like.