829 trained pigeons flew 10,995 missions with Navy pilots, but carried only 230 messages from the planes – 219 successfully, with 11 messengers missing in action.
A U.S.-BRED pigeon paced World War I birds with a record-setting 196 messages delivered from sea during the last year of the war. But the Navy’s first carrier pigeons were of Belgium, French and British origin, obtained in a 1917-18 “lendlease” deal. “Peerless Pilot,” show in a profile at upper left, was the record holder, bred at U.S. NAS Pauillac. Pilots were taught to throw the birds up or down to avoid props, depending upon the aircraft model, while the British tossed their birds in bags in order to minimize feather damage. Naval Air maintained 12 pigeon stations in France with 1,508 trained, young and in-training birds on hand at the time of the Armistice. On the cover, the white speck is a messenger leaving an HS-2 seaplane over the submarine-infested Bay of Biscay.