Wildcats and Kittens at Hickory Aviation Museum

Photo credit William Falls/Hickory Aviation Museum.
United Fuel Cells


In the summer of 2021, we reported HERE that the Hickory Aviation Museum had added a Wildcat (FM-2 BuNo. 16278) to their growing collection of rare aircraft based at Hickory Regional Airport in Hickory, North Carolina. Well last week, the museum announced the arrival of five more “cats”… only this time, they meant the term literally!

The FM-2 Wildcat BuNo. 16278 following its arrival at Hickory last summer. (photo via Hickory Aviation Museum)

This October, the museum’s social media manager Bill Baker told us that one of his volunteers had heard some strange noises coming from inside their Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (USAF 52-9529/USN QT-33A BuNo. 156118), which sits out on the airport ramp alongside several other historic airframes. Upon closer inspection, the volunteer was surprised to find a female cat and her four kittens!

After this discovery, the museum’s volunteers quickly realized that the cat had given birth inside the jet trainer (on loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force) and hidden her kittens within the cockpit, which is where the felines were first spotted. The museum, of course, did not instantly evict the cats; instead they worked hard to find an animal rescue center which could find new homes for the animals. The shelter organized the cats’ safe retrieval and has given them their requisite shots. They will spay/neuter the kittens once they are old enough; each of them (and their mother) will be available for adoption once they are roughly eight weeks old. Interestingly, the saga of the kittens has generated significant publicity, with the story even making People magazine! Bill Baker, referring to the kittens, noted: “They are doing well and should be adoptable by the end of the month or early December.”

Photo credit William Falls/Hickory Aviation Museum.

All of this, of course, points to the necessity of building an appropriate hangar for the Hickory Aviation Museum to house their aeronautical artifacts indoors. The museum is working on doing just that, and has already made significant progress in raising the funds necessary to build an appropriate structure. For those interested in contributing, please click HERE to find out how…

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