Kiddo the Cat, Reluctant Aviator

On October 15, 1910, Kiddo the cat became the first of his kind to attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean by airship, and he wasn’t very happy about it. When aeronaut Walter Wellman’s airship, America, was preparing for take-off from Atlantic City, Kiddo was found in the airship’s lifeboat. The wide-eyed grey tabby was not pleased about his unexpected journey, and his howling annoyed the airship’s chief engineer, Melvin Vaniman. The duo seemed to have made-up after their spat — at least enough to pose for the above photo together. The America was the first airship to have radio equipment. Kiddo has the distinction of being the subject of the first ever radio communication from an aircraft in flight: “Roy, come and get this damn cat!” The 71 hours that Kiddo and the rest of the crew spent in flight were fraught with storms and engine failure. After traveling just over 1,300 miles from their launch point, the America sent out a distress signal. Kiddo and the crew were evacuated via the airship’s lifeboat onto a Royal Mail steamship. The America — no longer weighed down by the boat, crew ….. and cat — drifted away and eventually crashed off the coast of Maryland. Fortunately, Kiddo ended up being adopted by the daughter of one of the airmen.