Ask ADOT: Flying cows

By Doug Nick / ADOT Communications

We were minding our own business just the other day here at ADOT Ranch when lo and behold a cow parachuted right into our backyard!

Not true. Not true at all. 

But it is true that we did field a question about flying cows not so long ago. Specifically, cows parachuting onto our beloved State 48. 

The question in question came from the good people at Snopes.com, the fact-checking website. 

They had seen a Tweet from none other than Jason Alexander. You know him as “George” from Seinfeld. 

George, er, Jason, had seen a photo of a road sign somewhere in Arizona clearly indicating that drivers should beware of parachuting cattle. But even more vexing was that a local media outlet had, jokingly, we presume, shared a similar photo not too long ago. 

To be clear, ADOT has no road signs of this kind. But if someone else has posted them on their own right-of-way, well, they can keep those signs up till the cows come home.

But we did provide an answer to Snopes when they posed the reasonable question. “Are parachuting cows a problem in Arizona?” Just so you know…

Personally, I have lived here all of my life and have yet to see a parachuting cow or other livestock for that matter.

I’m not a pilot, but I would imagine that the logistical challenges of herding cattle into an aircraft, strapping a parachute on them and releasing them to plummet to the earth at tremendous speed would be daunting, at the very least.

Then there’s the vexing problem of the ethos that “you pack your own chute.” That’s a sensible protocol for, say, the 101st Airborne. But as cattle have no opposable thumbs, this too becomes an insurmountable challenge and also raises the question of how a heifer, bull or steer would pull the ripcord while racing headlong (horn long)? into terra firma.

Of course, the stereotypical cartoon image of the desert often involves the presence of a cattle skull resting near a bush or a cactus. That tableau is conceivable, but we seriously doubt any of those cattle deaths were the result of rapid deceleration blunt force trauma to an erstwhile airborne bovine.

If you know Jason Alexander, please message him and put his mind at ease.

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