This version of a flying cat is extremely creepy. The one below is not.17th century illustration from Athanasius Kircher’s La Chine, via Wikimedia commons

Everyone in the flying world has seen this video. But not everyone in the world at large has, so here you go.

For context, the clip shows a male pilot taking off in a small ultralight craft from what is reported to be the airport in Kourou, French Guiana. Riding along with him is a female passenger on what the pilot says is her first small-aircraft trip. And riding along with them is another passenger, who makes an appearance about 40 seconds in.  

Additional study notes:

  • The ten seconds seconds starting at time 1:00 are wonderful found-art comedy, as the pilot discovers that his aircraft has three rather than two “souls on board.” If this were a cartoon, the pilot’s eyes would be popping out ten inches from his head.
  • Kourou is the site from which the French space program has launched its rockets. I’m not sure, but I think the Arianespace launch facility is what you can see in the background starting at around time 1:30.
  • The pilot shows admirable sangfroid in getting his craft back on the runway quickly once he discovers what he had missed before takeoff. But in this he is matched by unflappability of his extra passenger, from about 1:45 onward. The human passenger seems to be having a good time throughout.

In notes with his YouTube video, the man at the controls tells us:

Ok some details :
- the cat was INSIDE the wing, not on it. she was actually pretty safe in there, the danger was if she wanted to get down to reach us..
- i was the pilote, the woman was on her first flight as a passenger. she smile and giggle a lot, well because that's what flying does to people sometime.
-i told her not to reach for the cat. i told her not to move at all actually. i trusted the cat to not move if we didn't try to reach for her.
-you can see me fly shortly before landing. I was pretty assured by then that the cat wouldn't move and there was a relieve of tension; and the radio exchange with the control tower was kinda hilarious, i couldn't contain a smile.

Each decade I am allowed to post one cat video. Check with me again after 2020. Posting this one is in fact obligatory, given that it combines the themes of freedom-of-the-skies and the nature-of-cats. That is all.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.