Tuesday, December 1, 2020

When Pigs Fly


"When pigs fly" is an adynaton, an absurd figure of speech to describe an action or event that will never happen. But in literature, there are several examples of pigs that take action or participate in events, and a few indeed fly.

In real life in 2020, pigs are flying…on commercial airlines!

A consequence of less people on flights is that airline companies are repurposing their planes to take pigs around the globe. That’s right – the cargo bays of jets are transporting more animals than ever before, especially hogs to China. In addition to the flight crew, animal handlers are on board to monitor the pigs’ temperaments and to fill the porcine sipper bottles. The only drawback, according to handlers, is the distasteful aroma of even the cleanest and most scrubbed-down porcine.

Returning to the idea of pigs in literature, most western kids grow up reading or at least hearing about The Three Little Pigs. In recent years, children may have read The Three Little Javelinas, where the story is recast with wild boars of the Southwestern US. They build their home using tumbleweed, saguaro ribs, and adobe. A coyote huffs and puffs to blow the house down instead of a wolf. And there’s The Three Ninja Pigs intended to take literary swine to ninja fans. And in Today I Will Fly, Piggie is determined to fly.

But the best example of pigs in literature is perhaps Animal Farm.

If George Orwell were writing Animal Farm today, would he have Napoleon and Snowball argue about taking over the future of aviation, placing pigs in the cockpit, having flight attendants take alcoholic drinks to the passengers in first class? Would it be Mr. Jones who would be in the cargo bay?

Would Orwell have the common animals in coach peering into first class and the cockpit, and realize they could no longer differentiate the swine from the humans?

Leaving Orwell aside, I can see Noah’s Ark becoming Noah’s Jet. Instead of embarking on a boat, the giraffes, elephants, chipmunks, bears, antelopes, horses, birds, and remaining critters could simply board a Boing 777 or an Airbus A330, and fly off to higher ground until the flood waters recede.

Personally, I will never get on another jet without wondering if unpleasant odors will rise from the cargo
bay. For that, I already have my mask ready!

Do you have your mask?


The Nikki Garcia Mystery Series  -  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GZNF17G

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.


Book Credits:

The Three Little Pigs by Joseph Jacobs, first published on June 19, 1890

The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell/Illustrated by Jim Harris

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz/Illustrated by Dan Santat

Today I Will Fly by author/illustrator Mo Willems

Photo Credits:

Flying Pigs by BugMan50 – licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Animal Farm book cover – Public Domain

Flying Pig Mask – Public Domain

Kathryn’s books – designs by Bobbye Marrs


  1. And there's Wilber in Charlotte's Web.

    Personally, I loved Today, I Will Fly. It was my introduction to Elephant and Piggie and Mo Willems in general.

    1. Mark, you are so right about Charlotte's Web!! Thanks for reminding me.
      And yes, "Today, I Will Fly" was a favorite of mine!

  2. I like that flying pig mask, Kathryn.

  3. Thanks for this clever post. I must say I like the whimsical visual of flying pigs at the top better than my mental picture of hogs in the cargo bays of airplanes.

    1. Saralyn, this was a fun one to write. And I agree the whimsical pigs are a lot better to think of!!