"When pigs fly" is a term we all know that brings up a ridiculous picture. The phrase is akin to "when hell freezes over", meaning that something is not liable to happen -ever. But "swine flew" jokes aside, pigs do fly, mainly because we like to see it happen!
A few years ago, a collection of "historical" photographs were passed around the internet that showed Soviet space engineers shooting pigs into space. It seemed almost plausible, considering what we know about Soviet space experiments with animals, particularly dogs. But it wasn't so. The photographs are from the 2005 Russian film First on the Moon, which is a "mockumentary" about a Soviet moon landing in the 1930s.
Cincinnati, Ohio was a big pork packing center in the 19th century, and earned the name "Porkopolis". To celebrate the city's bicentennial in 1988, designer Andrew Leicester designed a new waterfront for the city, which included four flying pigs atop smoke stacks, to represent the pigs who gave their lives in the town's slaughterhouse. The flying pigs became a symbol for the city. Cincinnati hosts the Flying Pig Marathon each year, which was designated the "best named marathon in the country" by Runner's World Magazine! In 2000, downtown Cincy was decorated with artists' interpretation of pig sculptures in a project called the Big Pig Gig. Many of the pigs featured wings in homage to the bicentennial pigs and the marathon. Several of the pig statues are still seen in the city, such as these dancing winged pigs in front of the Cincinnati Ballet. Image by Flickr user Wally Gobetz.
Farmville's Pilot Pig
Pigs in Space
Pigs in Space was a recurring skit on The Muppet Show. The lead pigs were Captain Link Hogthrob, Miss Piggy, and the scientist Dr. Julius Strangepork doing scenes that parodied the Star Trek series (their ship was named the Swinetrek) with plenty of pork jokes thrown in. Watch the Pigs in Space with special guest star Mark Hamil at YouTube.
Pigs on Planes
In October of 2000, an airline passenger requested accommodations for her pig, which she said was a service animal, to accompany her on an American Airlines flight. The passenger also said the pig weighed only 13 pounds, but when it boarded it was clear that the porcine passenger was several hundred pounds. Maybe the fact that the owners purchased three first class seats for the pig should have been a tipoff. The pig caused chaos on the flight, running up and down the aisles and bothering other passengers. Four attendants wrestled the pig off the plane at its destination, but it then escaped and had to be chased through the airport. Nowadays, the only pig you are liable to see at an airport passenger terminal is on the menu.
Joel Veitch combined two things that really don't go together, but sound so cool that it had to be done: bacon and rocketry. He constructed a rocket out of bacon, and of course, wrote a little song about it. See, we even try to get pigs to fly after they are cooked!
The most famous flying pig of all is the inflatable pig seen at Pink Floyd (and Roger Waters) concerts. It all began with a prop that artist Jeffrey Shaw built in 1976 for the album cover of the 1977 album Animals. The pig made news when it broke free of its moorings during the photo shoot and was seen by airline pilots. Imagine what they must have thought! Since then, inflatable pigs have floated away (or "escaped") from concert venues on a semi-regular basis. Image by Flickr user Wonker.
Flying Pigs Everywhere!
Businesses love the flying pig idea. You can find Flying Pigs Farm, Where Pigs Fly Restaurant, When Pigs Fly Bakery, When Pigs Fly Barbecue, Flying Pig Adventure Company, and Flying Pig Bookstore. I'm sure there are plenty of others. And yes, you can buy your own flying piggy, to symbolize how fast your money goes.