They said it could never happen, but one Gloucestershire pig has fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition by learning to fly.
The pedigree porker, Lord Percival Snodgrass III, passed his test with flying colours at Kemble airfield, after only 170 hours wedged behind the joystick of his Cessna 172. Owner and best friend, Farmer John Dove, looked on with pride as his porcine pal proved that pigs might fly after all.
Farmer Dove was in ebullient mood last night as he spoke to reporters: ‘This is dedicated to everyone who’s ever stood in the way of me and Percy. First they tell us we can’t live together; then they say we can’t share a bed. When they said he’d never fly light aircraft professionally he just flipped. I had to pop a dozen valium in his cider trough before he’d calm down. Since that moment, we have dedicated our lives to Percy’s dream and today, it has finally become a reality.’
Farmer Dove has sacrificed everything for his friend – all his other pigs, his chickens, cows and sheep – and used the money from the local butcher to buy Percy’s plane. He even taught Percy himself, despite having no piloting experience and with only the Cessna’s user manual as a guide. This, he explains, was after the ‘snobs’ at the airfield refused to teach the pig to fly. ‘They just didn’t believe he could do it,’ moaned Farmer Dove, ‘them and the other pigs, turning their noses up at him. But he did it, just like I knew he would.’
Yet Percy’s flying mission almost crashed and burned as soon as it left the ground. Three months ago, he was involved in an emergency landing after one of his engines caught fire. Even now, Farmer Dove struggles to control his emotions as he tells the story:
‘He was on a training run, flying beautifully as usual, when the plane seemed to splutter and a puff of black smoke shot out of his left engine. I was transfixed. I didn’t know what to do. He was losing altitude, his nose started to dip. Then the engine became engulfed in flames and I swear I saw them licking round his cockpit. I shook myself out of my trance and raced up to the control tower. I yelled and yelled at him to let me know he was alright, but all I could hear was the sound of crackling on the radio. I believed my friend was dead, burned alive like a sad, old, drunken father on Bonfire Night 1974.
‘Just as I had given up hope, the plane righted itself and moments later, Percy brought it down safely. How that pig performed an emergency landing, I will never know.’
Despite his extraordinary achievement, Percy intends to celebrate in modest style, at home with Farmer Dove, a barrel of his favourite rotten apples, and The Missionary on DVD.
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