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#294332 - 12/08/19 11:51 PM Homing Pigeons as survival equipment
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 230
Loc: Southern California
In WW2, Royal Air Force bombers carried homing pigeons as emergency survival equipment in watertight containers (photo of one in this article)

This article says: "The British Royal Air Force determined that one in every seven of its crewmen who were rescued after being forced down at sea owed his life to a message sent by pigeon."

Here are two articles on the most famous case:

The pigeon that saved a World War II bomber crew

Winkie the RAF Pigeon who Saved the Life of a Bomber Crew

Here's a wartime report citing this and two other cases as "a few examples", from 15 Feb 1944
The use of Pigeons by the RAF

Reading the citations, it seems that 7 of the 32 homing pigeons awarded the Dickin Medal in WW2 were released from crashed RAF aircraft:

Pigeons at War the RAF and the National Pigeon Service

However, these days, personal locator beacons (PLBs) are less bulky and require less feeding than pigeons.


Edited by rafowell (12/09/19 01:00 AM)
Edit Reason: Better target for hyperlink
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A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB) (Ocean Signal PLB)

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#294333 - 12/09/19 12:13 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2728
Loc: Big Sky Country
I was going to go with a pigeon over a PLB til I read the last line! grin
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“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

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#294340 - 12/10/19 02:58 PM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
adam2 Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 450
Loc: Somerset UK
Whilst BAU continues, I have more faith in PLBs, emergency radios, satellite telephones and the like than in homing pigeons.

Pigeons are perhaps worth considering in a post apocalyptic scenario. They are fairly easy to keep and can be bred for best homing instinct. Eat the failures !

O/T trivia, a major London hospital used homing pigeons until recently, to carry blood samples from the ward to a lab in another building.
The distance was modest, but pigeons were quicker and cheaper than a human messenger.

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#294345 - 12/11/19 12:10 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
DaveL Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 10/03/18
Posts: 60
Loc: Colorado Springs,CO
The carrier pigeons were also used in Vietnam, for solders whom did not exist in countries that did not exist either.
So I have been told


Edited by DaveL (12/11/19 03:37 AM)

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#294346 - 12/11/19 01:28 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
dougwalkabout Online   content
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2909
Loc: Alberta, Canada
It's fascinating that such a system could be so successful! The modern brain boggles ... but then it wasn't floating in the icy Channel, hoping beyond hope for rescue.

(BTW, I really think you should have posted this on March 32. It would have messed with us completely. grin )

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#294390 - 12/15/19 11:42 PM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 864
Loc: wellington, fl
My kid had an apartment in Albany, NY, in a 19th century building. It had a dedicated carrier pigeon window with shelving and desk built around it. The local historians reported that the building was home to a local industrialist who communicated from home with staff at his factory across the river in Rensselaer. It must have been a pretty reliable system if it was worthwhile to create architecture to support it.
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Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

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#294408 - 12/18/19 01:10 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1163
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Tochuina tetraquetra

Homing Seal Slug

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