CARRIERE, Miss. (WLOX) - People across South Mississippi are lending a hand to help each other through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last few weeks, smiley faces have been in the skies of Pearl River County. Troy Ellis is the private pilot and flight enthusiast who is the artist behind the smiles. With a few gallons of smoke oil and his RV-8, he takes to the sky to give hope to those down below.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing. I seen a picture of a smiley face one day and thought that’d be something neat to try. I started practicing and trying to see if I could make it come out," said Ellis.
So Ellis fills up his RV-8— one of four different planes and one glider in his hangar— with smoke oil and taxis off to the runway, which is actually in his own back yard.
Once he gets his final clearance from flight control, he pulls back on the throttle, and off he goes.
According to Ellis, the art of making a smiley face isn’t an exact science.
“Usually when I make the complete circle, I can’t see my starting point. From there I’ll turn over and draw the mouth for the smiley face and, again, it’s just kind of guessing at where I’m putting it. After that, I’ll come around and draw the eyes, so to speak," Ellis said.
Checking his work is not as easy in the air as it is for the spectators that see from the ground.
“So, you really can’t see it until you climb up two or three hundred feet or descend down two or three hundred feet. Then, you can kind of see what you have done," Ellis told WLOX.
The smiley faces help him get through the chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic, as Ellis said, it’s all part of his love of flying.
“It’s something I enjoy doing so if they’re enjoying it and getting something out of it, it’s a win-win," said Ellis.