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Animals Aloft

Aviation can sometimes be downright inhuman.

The National Air and Space Museum’s Archives Division has more than 1.75 million photographs in its collections, a surprising number of which show animals, notes museum specialist Allan Janus in the introduction to his 2005 book Animals Aloft. Some of the animals were mascots and pets, a few were “passengers” or cargo, and still others served as test subjects. “Although men and women may have always dreamed of taking to the sky,” writes Janus, “the photographic evidence suggests that we’ve also liked having our favorite companions and helpers nearby.”

Consider, for example, "Monoplane" (pictured above), who took to the skies in July 1912 with his owner, Shakir S. “Dude” Jerwan, a pilot with the Moisant Aviation School in Mineola, Long Island. “Ah, for the good old days when you could light up on the plane and enjoy a smoke with the wind whistling through your fur,” writes Janus.

Click on the gallery below for more images from the National Air and Space Museum’s collections.

Kiddo

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The first cat to cross the Atlantic by air was the diminutive Kiddo, shown here with Melvin Vaniman, chief engineer of the airship America, which took off from Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 15, 1910. “Initially,” says Janus, “[Kiddo] didn’t enjoy the experience, howling piteously and upsetting the airship’s chief engineer. The America was the first aircraft to carry radio equipment, and Vaniman ordered a wireless message sent to [owner Walter] Wellman’s secretary back on shore—so the historic first radio communication from an aircraft in flight reads: Roy, come and get this goddamn cat.” Kiddo soon adapted, however, and spent a semi-content 71 and a half hours in flight. After his experience, Kiddo was briefly displayed in Gimbel’s department store on plush cushions, before completely retiring from aviation to live with Wellman’s daughter.

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