Skywriting planes take to the sky over California parade, writing anti-Donald Trump messages

Skywriting over the 127th Rose Parade making a reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Pasadena, California, on Jan 1.
Skywriting over the 127th Rose Parade making a reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Pasadena, California, on Jan 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP/REUTERS) - Multiple planes took to the skies on Friday (Jan 1) in California to lampoon Mr Donald Trump in a series of "skywriting" messages, including: "America is great! Trump is disgusting."

As onlookers craned their necks for a view, the five or six skywriting planes flew above the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, CNN said.

Many of those in the crowd looked skywards as the aircraft left their short-lived statements against a deep blue backdrop.

The planes circled for almost an hour after the parade of flower-adorned floats and marching bands finished, writing variations on a theme that included messages such as "Trump is delusional", and "Trump is a fascist dictator".

Other messages hitting out at Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the White House, included, "Anybody but Trump" and "Trump loves to hate".

CBS News said an Alabama businessman, Mr Stan Pate, was behind the airborne protest targeting Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, over the heads of the hundreds of thousands of visitors at the New Year's Day event. A CBS reporter interviewed Mr Pate on the air after the parade.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, but he told CBS News in the interview that he considered the billionaire candidate to be despicable, and that "this is just the start".

Mr Pate said he had paid for anti-Trump messages at the recent Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl college football games. "Other candidates can't get in the gutter with him," Mr Pate said. "I can and I will if that's where he wants to continue to go."

CBS reported that Mr Pate, who like Mr Trump is a real estate developer, has donated to Democratic and Republican candidates in the past. In the current primary campaign leading up to the November 2016 presidential election, he has contributed to the campaign of Republican White House hopeful Marco Rubio.

Critics have called Mr Trump a racist following his comments describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug smugglers, and his suggestion to ban all Muslims from entering the US

Mr Trump did not make any immediate response. The billionaire real-estate tycoon and reality TV star greeted the 2016 election year by proclaiming on Facebook: "2015 was a very special year, and I am grateful for your support!

"We are making history together! The silent majority is no longer silent."

A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Security on the ground for the parade in Pasadena, north of Los Angeles, had been tight. More than a half million spectators thronged the 9km route of the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade, followed by the 102nd Rose Bowl college football game.

Spurred by last month's deadly mass shooting in nearby San Bernardino, more than two dozen federal agencies joined forces with the police for the largest security operation in the history of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.