Air Ads

ADS early

Operated at Southend from Sep 1952 to late 1956

Founders/Directors – Mr Ladislav Marmol, Mrs Olive Marmol and Mr Freddie Laker

While ‘Ladi’ Marmol had initially come to Southend as a gliding instructor after which he went on to start the import and export goods between Southend and ADS FramePrague, these were at the time considered to be private or personal ventures. However in 1952, Ladi and his wife Olive would join forces with Freddie Laker and together they formed Air Ads Ltd, the idea behind this outfit being to provide aerial advertising to any company that wanted to see its own brand or the name of its products flying overhead in neon lights. Miles Aerovan G-AJTC was procured for this very purpose and it wasn’t long before Ladi was airborne with household names such as Ariel and Persil glowing away in the evening or night skies. A number of flights were made over London, although it was generally agreed that towns by the sea would permit these operations to be exploited to their best effect, being as the aircraft could fly much lower due to the flat, unbuilt areas that such locations provided.

While neon signs had previously been carried by aircraft (usually under the wings), each side of the the Aerovan was instead fitted with 27 x 3.5ft tubular steel, ‘quick change’ frames that could carry two sets of lettering (one in front of the other to enableADS Neon two different messages to flash independently of each other). This design also enabled the 3ft tall light tubes to be replaced relatively quickly from a universal set that had been provided with the frames. Power was supplied by a small petrol generator that was placed inside a secure metal box in the rear cabin of the aircraft and a safety breaker was added to prevent any dangerous power surges. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the complaints started to flood in… not because of any excessive noise or safety considerations, but because the glowing neon signs allegedly disrupted the TV signals in the area that the Aerovan was at the time operating over and thus in the UK at least, this unique form of advertising was brought to a rather abrupt end.

Then, in the spring of 1955 another Aerovan joined the company although by now, flying was confined mostly to ADS Dachauthe odd passenger charter or cargo flight, many of which involved the import of smaller livestock such as fish and seafood products from the Continent to Southend. Germany seems to have been the main destination for many of Ladi’s jaunts and he had on more than one occasion, previously attempted to sell Air Ads unique form of aerial advertising to various companies in the region. Later in July 1955, Ladi took another trip to Germany with Aerovan Tango Charlie making several flights around the islands of Helgoland to the delight of the local residents and quite naturally, the aircraft didn’t return empty, but with a hold full of lobsters. However, two months later this plane was written off while flying a charter to Dachau in Germany, although what caused the crash is unknown.

However, almost one year later in August 1956, the second Aerovan Whiskey Delta would also be written off, this time near Dunkirk in France whilst operating a cargoADS first flight. However as Scott Irvin relays, this aircraft would not only come down once, but twice in its attempt to return to the UK… “The aircraft was on its way back from Germany with Ladi as the co-pilot and another chap as the pilot in charge, while Olive Marmol and my 16 year old father were in the seats behind. Whilst flying back over Belgium, the port propeller took a bird strike which caused the blades to shear off and enter the cabin behind the cockpit, right between Ladi and the pilot and my father and Olive Marmol. The distance between the front and rear seats could have only been 2-3ft at most and I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to see a blade whiz past before your very eyes and then exit the other side of the aircraft.”

“My father also mentioned that the pilot then ran to the back of the aircraft after which, Ladi took over the controls and made an emergency ADS secondlanding in a field. Luckily, they came down not too far from a Belgian Air Force base whose inhabitants were kind enough to assist them. My father and Olive then returned to the UK by train while Ladi stayed behind to get a new propeller fitted. Once this was done, he then made a second attempt to fly the aircraft back to Southend… well, that was the plan. Unfortunately, the propeller had not been fitted correctly and the vibration caused the aircraft to crash in a field near Dunkerque. This time, Ladi had to be extracted from the aircraft. Sufficed to say, that aircraft never left France and I think it was later scrapped.” As a result of these two crashes, Air Ads was now without aircraft and as a consequence, services were permanently suspended. However, it wasn’t long until the ‘ADS’ part of the name was transferred to a new entity, that of A.D.S Aerial Ltd which would take a completely different direction and emerge as a spraying and crop dusting company, a kind of flying that no doubt suited Ladi well, considering his gliding experience and past.

Please go to the menu ‘Other SEN Firms’ for more details about A.D.S Aerial.

Extra thanks go to Scott and Antony Irvin who have provided much of the information, the media articles and all of the images for this particular page.


Air Ads fleet while based at SEN

Miles Aerovan 4

G-AJTC – 10/52 to 9/55

DBR on a charter to Dachau – 23/9/55

G-AJWD – 2/55 to 8/56

DBR on cargo flight near Dunkirk – 26/8/56

G-AMYA – 2/53 to 9/59

Purchased for spares use only


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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.