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France Vacations Made Easy E-zine, Issue #003 --Dramatic Carrier Pigeon Liftoff, Commemorating the 7
May 19, 2019

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Dramatic Carrier Pigeon Liftoff, Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Bon Jour!

As many of you probably know, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. There are many commemoration events planned all year long, and I will be participating in many of them here in Normandy.

But there are also quite a few happening in the US as well. Below is one. The reason this one is special to me is that my book Zip: The Story of a Carrier Pigeon in WWII served as the inspiration for their year-long project culminating in an exhibition of glass and live carrier pigeons at their gallery and studio in New Orleans on the anniversary of D-Day (June 6th).

I am so honored that Zip had such an impact!

Picture of WWII Pigeons

A pigeon with a camera strapped to it.

A pigeon being loaded into a "pigeon keg". Please go to my page on carrier pigeons here to read all about this.

The Press Release

The New Orleans School of Glassworks and Printmaking Studio—727 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA—will host a year-long exhibition to honor the role of the illustrious "Heroic Carrier Pigeon" that was credited for flying strategic messages between the allies during WWII.

The inaugural event to open the exhibition will be June 6, the 75th anniversary of the victorious WWII battle (“Operation: Overlord”) on D-Day in Normandy, France, where in 1944 more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavilyfortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches.

To commemorate the historic victory, the studio will orchestrate a dramatic liftoff of more than 40 carrier pigeons, each with a message attached to its leg. The airborne notes, written by local students, will be followed by a fluttering of white doves to honor the veterans.

Students—along with local dignitaries and pigeon handlers—will participate in the pigeon launch while officials follow the pigeons’ journeys on GPS and computers as the pigeons return to their respective home lofts. The average flying distance of a carrier pigeon is over 300 miles at 45 miles per hour.

Inside the gallery, the forgotten heroes will be featured in an installation of two dozen life-size pigeons fabricated in glass and suspended from 20-foot ceilings. In the tableau, the glass pigeons are being chased by their predator, the deadly and superfast peregrine falcon. Another scene of the exhibition will showcase glass pigeons in authentic WWII pigeon parachutes as they descend from the ceiling into the recreated gardens of Normandy. The parachutes carried custom-made tubes large enough fit the pigeon with a supply of water and grain.

Another symbolic installation of this historic feat will be a glass facsimile of a pigeon parachuting outside the New Orleans School of Glassworks and Printmaking Studio's brick building portraying John Steele, the famous Sainte-Mere-Eglise paratrooper who was caught hanging from the church steeple in Normandy on D-Day. According to legend, the first carrier pigeon was the dove from Noah’s Ark, carrying a twig to signal Noah that there was land ahead. During the medieval period, the carrier pigeons delivered chess moves in notes between the castles. How do you think the scores for the early Olympic Games were delivered from Greece to countries such a Spain and Ireland? The carrier pigeon! At 8:00 am, prior to the liftoff at 9:00 am on Thursday, June 6, students and dignitaries will be coached on how to handle the pigeons as they attach the notes to their legs before they take flight.

The New Orleans School of Glass Works and Printmaking Studio acknowledges the support of the Smithsonian Institute and Dr. Frank Blazich, lead curator of military history at the Smithsonian. Additional credit goes to prominent pigeon fancier Ed Minvielle and his team who are donating their time and pigeons to show the audience how to handle each pigeon when attaching messages to its legs before the breathtaking liftoff, and Diane Condon-Boutier with her inspirational book Zip: The story of a Carrier Pigeon in WWII (illustrations by Elisabeth Gontier).

Here is a selection of photographs to illustrate the year-long exhibition in which the students will participate through the summer workshop learning the navigation and aerodynamics of the carrier pigeon, considered the 20th century’s race horse of the sky.

Throughout the year, the studio will be sharing the history and video of the forgotten WWII hero with visitors to the sky lit studio as they watch the glass artisans creating carrier pigeons and the predatory paragon falcon.

The landing of each carrier pigeon will be recorded on a computer, while the messages will be retrieved and documented. The pigeons’ routes, times and messages will be published for visitors to see during the exhibition.

To arrange to participate in this historic, hands on commemorative event, click the "Contact Us" tab on the website,

Please take the time to watch the dramatic documentary about the role of the carrier pigeons during WWII: click here to see the video.

The New Orleans School of Glassworks is located at 727 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130 (between Girod and Julia Streets, 2 blocks from the WWII Museum) Email:

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Thank you,

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