As kids, most of us spent time laying in the grass, watching clouds roll by and imagining the shapes we could see in the fluffy white masses.
Now one company, Lexington, Ala.-based SnowMasters, aims to indulge those flights of fancy by actually making "clouds" in the shapes of, well, anything, from the Atlanta Braves' tomahawk to Mickey Mouse's iconic head.
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These clouds are actually a mixture of soap-based foams and lighter-than-air gases such as helium, something like what you'd get if you married helium balloons with the solutions that kids use to blow bubbles from plastic wands.
The company uses re-purposed artificial snow machines to generate the floating ads and messages, dubbed Flogos.
The machines can pop one Flogo out every 15 seconds, flooding the air with foamy peace signs or whatever shape a client desires.
Renting the machine for a day starts out at a cost of about $2,500.
Designers use computer software to make a stencil that when placed into the snow machine, "cuts the foam in the exact right shape," said Flogo inventor Francisco Guerra.
The Flogos are about two feet long and nearly a foot wide, and generally last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on conditions in the atmosphere, according to the company.
"They will fly for miles," Guerra said. "They are durable, so they last a while."
They generally bob to heights of 300 to 500 feet (90 to 150 meters), the inventors say, though they can rise up to 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) in the air.
Guerra says that Flogos are environmentally friendly as the soaps that make up the foamy shapes are derived from plants, and that eventually a Flogo "just evaporates in the air."
"It does not pollute the skies," he told LiveScience.
Guerra also says the floating ads are not a danger to airplanes, because flying through one is "like going through a cloud."
Nothing from the Flogo sticks to the surface of a plane, even if it goes through the aircraft's jet engine, he said.
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