85 Year Anniversary: Nellie’s Got Milk!


On February 18, 2015 you may say, “When cows fly. . .” instead of

the usual expression which includes another livestock animal- pigs.

Why?  Because Elm Farm Ollie,  a Guernsey  cow engaged  in  an

experiment in seeing how a cow would do up in an airplane while

she was being milked.


Nellie Jay was her farm name and she became famous and known as,

“Elm Farm Ollie” while she traveled on a trip of 72 miles on the



It left Bismarck, Missouri to arrive at St. Louis, Missouri.

Later, her special (show) nickname became, “Sky Queen.”

(Not to be mixed up with the “Dancing Queen.”)


On February 18 of 1930,  scientists and a publicity stunt combined

in efforts to discover if placing a cow up on an airplane and milking

her would change her ability to produce milk.  Nellie was already

celebrated among neighboring farms in Bismarck, Missouri. She

was known to produce enough milk to be milked three times daily.


Nellie Jay’s productivity added up to 24 quarts a day!


On Nellie Jay’s adventure of her lifetime, not only did she have to

endure flying, but a stranger named Elsworth W. Bunce was her

‘guest milker.’


Elsworth was to become renowned as the,

“First man who ever milked a cow mid-flight.”


Another incredulous detail of this flying cow story were the results.

She was able to be milked efficiently, the milk was sealed in paper

cartons, parachuted down to earth and she had a famous person

drink her milk:  Charles Lindbergh.


Rumor has it that Lindbergh reportedly received and drank a glass

of Elm Farm Ollie’s air-dropped milk.


There are some really quaint and precious photographs of this

patient, easygoing cow. She is giving rides to little children wearing

bonnets while riding on her back.There may even be a cowboy hat

on one of the children.


Also, there is a sweet painting of Nellie Jay, as her Elm Farm owners

affectionately called her. The painting is labeled as, “Elm Farm Ollie,”

which was painted by E. D. Thalinger. (No, that is NOT  J.D. Salinger,

the author pronounced by someone with a lisp!)


“Time Magazine” wrote two articles about air shows late that

winter of 1930. But there is no mention any cows taking airplane



The dates were coincidentally close to the time of the ‘trail blazing

event:’  February 24, 1930 and March 3, 1930.


What could have possibly been more exciting or entertaining for

“Time Magazine” to write about, if not the amazing Nellie Jay,

otherwise known as Elm Farm Ollie or Sky Queen?


Do you think they should use this somehow in the “Got Milk”


Had you ever heard of this hilarious scientific dairy story?



Although the facts were collected from articles in Wikipedia

and online, this is an original essay by reocochran (2/16/15).





About reocochran

I am experiencing crazy and hapless adventures in dating that may interest people over fifty. I am now approaching 62 later this year and enjoy taking photographs, incorporating stories or poetry on my blog. I have many old posts which are informative and written like essays. I have several love stories collected from family and friends. Even strangers spill their stories, since I am a grown version of the girl next door. I have been trying to live a healthy lifestyle with better food selections and active hiking and walking. I have written four children's books and illustrated them. They are not published but a battered women's shelter used one about neglect and abuse for their children's program and a 4H group used my "Kissing a Bunny is like saying a Prayer" as a coloring book. Please comment or respond so I may get a chance to know you. Sincerely, Robin

23 responses »

    • Oh, Luanne! That memory almost is just a blur to me. I will have to look up “Sky King” and see a photo or two! I bet that will trigger some more memories. Thanks for this comment and reminding me of “Sky King.” I really didn’t see any factual data or research on this little escapade, didn’t even really know why they did it but it was so funny to read about it!

    • Yes, this would make sense! Maybe there is a connection. I could not figure out really why the cow riding on a plane would make any sense at all, but I love “Dairy Queen,” you clever Jill!

    • She does sound like a jewel, Beth! I really like cows, their eyes are so big and eyelashes so nice, too. I have to admit this was a fun fact to share, I enjoyed finding it. Have you watched the Hallmark movie, “Away and Back?” It has trumpeter swans and Jason Lee, with Minka Kelly. I would recommend it with precious little swan chicks. Wonder what you call baby swans? not goslings… smiles! (from cows to swans… you know the crooked path my brain waves take!)

  1. That the Sky Queen may have been the original Dairy Queen was my thought, too. Nellie Jay – sounds like a good name for a little girl… or maybe a crazy aunt. She must have been like a regular member of the family. This is a fun story. – Mike

    • I am very glad she didn’t get nervous and produce curdled milk! I cannot imagine the trauma she could have felt, but I guess she handled it just fine! I love the way you described this, Colleen!

  2. Aha…it’s the old flying cow story, I see. Hm. I’m kidding. I never heard about this at any point in my now almost sixty-nine years of hearing animal stories.
    Frankly, it’s scary – and reminds me of what some people think up when they have way too much time on their hands when their hands are milking cows. I’m just sayin’. 🙂

    • Yes, way too much time (and money) which I still have no clue really what they learned from this, except one cow was able to handle the flight and produce milk. Animal stories are always interesting, so many people enjoy them, too. On “Funniest Home Videos,” animals rate higher in our family than babies for producing laughter! Smiles back at you!

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