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August 20, 2013

November 4, 1909: The First Pig to Fly

The first historically recorded flight of a pig took place on at Leysdown in Kent (Great Britain) on November 4, 1909. With this flight, the aristocratic British aviator J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, later the First Lord Brabazon of Tara, made porcine aviation a reality. He fixed a wicker basket to a wing strut of his personal French-built Voisin biplane and carefully strapped a pig into it. The basket had a hand written sign “I AM THE FIRST PIG TO FLY”. Then he took bemused pig for a flight of about 3.7 miles from Shellbeach, the Short Brothers airfield at Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey.

Brabazon learned to fly in France at Issy-Les-Moulineaux near Paris. While there, he purchased and brought back to England a standard model Voisin aero plane in 1909. Once in England with his Voisin, he secured the second pilot license issued to a British subject on March 8, 1909 (the first was issued to Henry Farman, noted British aero plane pilot, designer and builder).

And then in May of 1909, Brabazon made a flight of 500 yards in his Voisin at Leysdown in Kent – officially recognized as the first flight by a British pilot in Britain. Once the operability of the Voisin was assured, Brabazon set a number of early flying records, including his personal ambition to prove that pigs really could fly. On October 30, Brabazon won the £1.000 prize offered by the Daily Mail for the first closed circuit of a mile in a British airplane. For this venture he purchased a Short Brothers N02 airplane fitted with a 60-horse-power Green aero engine.

Brabazon in his Voisin in which he made the first flight in Britain by a British pilot.

Brabazon went on to a distinguished and eccentric career in British sport and Government. After further flying exploits and keeping company with the Wright Brothers and Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame), he was Minister of Transport, and later Minister of Aircraft Production under Winston Churchill, and eventually elevated to the House of Lords where he took a seat as Lord Brabazon of Tara.

After the war, Brabazon was given the job of planning for post-war civil aviation in Britain. He chaired a British Cabinet committee that oversaw the building of a prototype aircraft – the Bristol 167 Brabazon – the largest plane ever built in Britain. The 167 performed poorly in initial trials, and lost economical feasibility as more efficient designs were concurrently developed. It never went into production.

Bristol Brabazon

Afterward Brabazon, entered into private life and continued to distinguish himself as a racer of Belgian cars, an avid golfer, and, at the age of 70, he rode the fearsome Cresta bobsled run at St. Moritz.

Lord Brabazon of Tara died in 1964.


  1. did the pig die? it’s so cute

  2. I don’t know the average life span of a pig, but I’m pretty certain that yes, it did die.
    I don’t know how or when.




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