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Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day – February 18, 2023

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day is celebrated annually on February 18 to commemorate the day a cow named Nellie Jay, which later became Elm Farm Ollie, became the first cow to be flown and milked in an airplane. The event was part of a scientific effort to study the effect of height on cows’ ability to produce milk. In the 72-mile flight over Bismarck, Missouri, Ollie’s milk was put in paper cartons and parachuted down to the spectators to generate publicity. The trip was also meant to show the ability of the new Ford Trimotor aircraft that had only just begun shipping after its production began in 1925.

History of Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day celebrates Elsworth W. Bunce’s cow, Elm Farm Ollie, the first cow to be flown and milked in an airplane. On February 18, 1930, a Guernsey cow named Nellie Jay, sometimes known as Elm Farm Ollie, was flown from Bismarck, Missouri, on a Ford Trimotor plane to the International Aviation Exhibition in St. Louis as part of a scientific effort to study whether heights affect cows’ ability to produce milk. Ollie was known as a high milk-producing cow and was chosen entirely because of her calm nature.

Proceeding the milking process on the 72-mile flight over Missouri, milk cartons (made of paper) on parachutes were let down to spectators to create publicity. Also, the trip was meant to show the ability of the new Ford Trimotor aircraft that had only just begun shipping after its production began in 1925. According to historians, the purpose of the trip was to prove to farmers that farm animals can be flown from one place to another and be milked en route.

However, spectators in the farming industry noted that the practice of shipping animals via air freight rather than overland never truly caught on. Regardless, everyone agreed that the feet Ollie the cow achieved is worth memorializing and occasionally honoring, hence the reason for Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day began on February 18.

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day timeline

1925
The Ford Trimotor Starts Production

The companies of Henry Ford begin the production of the Ford Trimotor, which is later used to fly Elm Farm Ollie.

1930
The First Flying Cow

On February 18th, Elsworth W. Bunce, a dairy farmer, makes history together with his cow, Elm Farm Ollie, as the first person to milk a cow on an airplane and the first cow to be flown and milked on an airplane.

1930
A painting is commissioned

The first painting of Elm Farm Ollie is unveiled by E.D. Thalinger.

2003
A Poem for Ollie

Barry Levenson writes ‘The Bovine Cantata’ in B flat Major, a poem for Elm Farm Ollie.

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day FAQs

When was the first cow flown and milked on an airplane?

On February 18, 1930. This was the day a cow named Nellie Jay or Elm Farm Ollie, became the first cow to be flown and milked on an airplane as part of a scientific effort to study the effect of height on cows’ ability to produce milk.

Is animal milk good for humans?

Yes. Cows provide a source of protein and calcium as well as nutrients including vitamin B12 that help keep our blood and nerve cells healthy.

How do you celebrate Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day?

Milk a cow. Cows provide our best source of calcium and important nutrients through the milk they produce and as a way to celebrate the day, it’s probably best to milk one.

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day Activities

  1. Milk a cow

    Cows are incredible animals. They provide our best source of calcium and important nutrients through the milk they produce. To celebrate and honor the memory of Elm Farm Ollie, get to a nearby farm to learn how to milk a cow.

  2. Watch a documentary about Ollie

    Although Elm Farm Ollie achieved this feat about a century ago, there are many online video series and short clips that discuss the event in detail. To celebrate the holiday, watch one of these.

  3. Talk about Ollie on social media

    Share your thoughts and spread awareness about the feat Elm Farm Ollie achieved in 1930 on social media to help more people discover this beautiful story. Use hashtags #CowMilkedWhileFlyingInAnAirplaneDay and #ElmFarmOllieDay to track discussions.

5 Fun Facts About Cows

  1. Chew, chew, chew

    Cows chew about 50 times in one minute, which adds up to an incredible 40,000 times per day.

  2. Mother cow

    Before the animal gives birth, it is called a heifer and after giving birth, she then becomes a cow.

  3. Cows don’t eat cows

    Cows only eat grass and grain and are not fed any type of meat.

  4. Cows love company

    Cows do not enjoy being on their own, they are sociable animals.

  5. Red’s got nothing on cows

    Cows can see color and even red — bulls charge at the movement of a flag instead of the common belief that they charge at the color red.

Why We Love Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day

  1. Ollie’s calmness

    Since having the right temperament was crucial for whichever cow was to be chosen for the flight, it was decided Ollie was the right candidate. Without her calmness, we might not have figured out if it’s possible to fly and milk animals in planes.

  2. The air show

    Elm Farm Ollie’s feat inspires us to look forward to the various air shows that happen year-round. Perhaps it’s because her 72-mile trip was a part of the International Air Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri.

  3. It reminds us of the importance of milk

    The importance of the protein and other nutrients that cow milk gives us was reinforced with the gesture to seal it in paper containers and throw milk down to spectators during the flight. Each Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day serves as a reminder to appreciate milk more.

Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 18Saturday
2024February 18Sunday
2025February 18Tuesday
2026February 18Wednesday
2027February 18Thursday

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