A short film written, directed and produced by Al Croseri

8 minutes duration

"The Flight" is an homage to the bravery of homing pigeons who saved thousands of lives in combat in the Great World Wars. Their achievements embodied the attributes of service, endurance, loyalty and supreme courage. Here, their memory is evoked by two present-day homing pigeons silently taking flight from the windows of a New York City apartment. The film dissolves to a forgotten past as we relive their ancestors' selfless heroism.

Join them in "The Flight," slow down, think, and remember.


"The Flight--a lovely tribute to the often-overlooked winged heroes of conflicts past." CLICK HERE FOR MAYOR BLOOMBERG'S LETTER




"Your documentary inspired me to talk with the Museum's Education and Events Coordinators. We've decided to have a "Family Movie Night" under the stars in August. Our "Family" events are becoming very popular and they are such a great way to educate while having family fun." Gayle Drews, Curator, Yankee Air Museum

Where History Flies
Honoring Aviation History And It's Participants Through A Living, Flying Museum

Friday August 14, 2009 - Starts at 7:30 pm.
Saturday August 15, 2009 - Rain Date.

I am honored to announce the premiere of "The Flight" at the Yankee Air Museum's First Family Movie Night Under The Stars in Michigan. The Yankee Air Museum is home to "Thunder Over Michigan Air Show" where the world renowned U.S. Navy "Blue Angels" fly.

Old Sarge Harry Lucas Holding the famous G.I. Joe

Old Sarge Harry Lucas holding the famous G.I. Joe at the U.S. Army lofts at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

G.I. JOE's Dicken Medal citation reads,

"For prompt delivery of a message to XII Air Support Command, thereby preventing the bombing of advanced elements 56th (London) Division."

"G.I. JOE," a dark checker pied white flight cock, was hatched March 24, 1943, at the Pigeon Section in Algiers, Algeria, North Africa. Later he was taken to the Tunisian front, then to Bizerte, and from there to the Italian front.



Family movie night at Yankee set

PUBLISHED: August 13, 2009

The Yankee Air Museum's second Family Night Event, titled "Family Movie Night Under the Stars," is set for 7: 30 p.m. Friday, with a rain date for Saturday, at the Willow Run Airport.

Families are encouraged to get there prior to 7:30 pm to claim their spot in front of the large outdoor movie screen. The cost is $25 per family if someone in the family is a member of the Yankee Air Museum and $30 per family for non-members.

The night will feature the premiere of Al Croseri's short film, "The Flight," as well as Disney's "Valiant." An exhibit on the Pigeon Signal Air Corp, which operated during WWI and WWII, will also be on display.

There will be activities for the children as well. The cost of the ticket includes pop, popcorn, the exhibit fee, and activities. Families are also encouraged to bring their favorite chair or blanket to use during the movie.

Please, no glass bottles, no smoking and no alcoholic beverages.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 483-4030 or at the gate upon arrival.

Yankee Air Museum is focusing their efforts on teaching children and having more family friendly events such as their Family Nights.

For additional information about the Education program at Yankee Air Museum, please visit

Yankee Air Museum was established in 1981 as a non-profit organization and is now located just west of Metro at Willow Run Airport in Hangar Two. The mission of Yankee Air Museum is to honor aviation history and its participants through a living, flying Museum.

For more information, visit the Web site

Click here to return to story:

The Flight At Hangar 2, Yankee Air Museum

"The Flight" premiere at Hangar 2, Yankee Air Museum, Willow Run Airport West, Michigan, USA.

"Dear Al, Thank you so much for your support and help in promoting our Movie Night. It was a successful evening.
Everyone, adults and children alike took a great deal away with them and all in all we were pleased."
Gayle Drews, Curator, Yankee Air Museum and Rachel Krumwiede, Education Coordinator, Yankee Air Museum Education

Photographs by Bob Hassan, Yankee Air Museum

The Flight Film Reviews

"The Flight"reviewed by Dr. Rick Wright, Managing Director of "Wings," Former Editor of "Winging It," an American Birding Association publication.

Feathered rats, RoPi-dopes, pigs in space: How we birders love to hate 'em! Even those of us who confess to a grudging admiration for such aliens as European Starlings and House Sparrows have nothing but scorn for the Rock Pigeon, a filthy beast that, in its nearly worldwide introduced range, has never made the break with its utter dependence on man and his habitats.

But even the most cursory look reveals that like all creatures, Rock Pigeons have a fascinating natural history, as Cornell's Project PigeonWatch continues to remind us. And the very commensalism that makes so many of us look down on the lowly pigeon means that the species has long enjoyed a special and privileged place in cultural history, too.

Alessandro Croseri's moving Flight is a brief video homage to one aspect of that cultural history, the role that Rock Pigeons have played in war. Combining historic stills with beautiful images of pigeons flying free over New York City, The Flight reminds us that homing pigeons, by carrying messages and even taking photographs with cameras strapped to their iridescent-feathered necks, saved lives and won battles in the First and Second World Wars. The film does without narration, relying on a somber but appealing sound track and the juxtaposition of images to carry its message. Particularly memorable is the morphing of pigeon wingbeats into artillery fire, and the visual fade of a flock of birds into a squadron of bombers.

Such images might suggest that Rock Pigeons in combat were nothing more than another weapon. But Croseri includes other, equally remarkable images showing the birds and their relationship to their human handlers. Pigeons are cradled and caressed before being sent into harm's way, and their sacrifices are commemorated both photographically and taxidermically. In one of the film's more bizarre shots, captured "enemy" pigeons are paraded through town in cages, simultaneously spoils of war and prisoners.

Al Croseri is to be congratulated on an effective and moving piece of film-making, and anyone interested in birds and their place in human history is encouraged to watch this film. It will change the way you think about pigeons.

"The Flight" reviewed by Dr. Cordula Mora, researcher studying navigation and homing in animals, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

"I watched your film "The Flight" and enjoyed it very much. As someone who has read a considerable amount about the service of homing pigeons in combat, I was very moved by the images, and I think if this film is screened as part of the collection of memorabilia at Fort Monmouth, it will be a very memorable experience for visitors to the museum."

Homing pigeons have an uncanny ability to find their way back to their loft over great distances and from places they have never been to before. Because of this homing sense, pigeons have played an important role throughout human history faithfully carrying messages during times of war and peace.

Today pigeon racing has become a popular sport throughout the world and pigeon fanciers can be found in almost every city. Nevertheless, not many people are aware that an estimated tens of thousands of pigeons lost their lives and many more were wounded, when they were drafted as vital means for communication and reconnaissance during World Wars I and II. Even during the Korean War, pigeons were used as a backup despite the by then significantly advanced communications technology.

However, carrying important messages as well as spy cameras made these pigeons instant targets with many being shot down by enemy soldiers. The fact that a number of pigeons nevertheless made it home, some with shot-off legs or other bullet wounds, speaks for the remarkable homing instinct of these birds and on more than one occasion saved many lives.

Alessandro Croseri's film "The Flight" is a beautiful and moving homage to the sacrifices that homing pigeons made as "winged messengers" at times of war and surely will be greatly enjoyed by pigeon-fanciers, war-historians, and laymen alike.

"The Flight" by Peter Murton, American Air Museum, Imperial War Museum Duxford, United Kingdom

"This is demonstrably a moving and informative compilation, with a fascinating mixture of historic still photographs and movie clips mixed in with your modern New York footage. I am pleased to confirm that The Flight will now be held in the American Air Museum information support collection, and made available to interested researchers upon request."

"The Flight" reviewed by Nico Van Benten, pigeon fancier, publisher and chief editor of "Aviculture Europe," The Netherlands.

Technically, the producer Alessandro Croseri, completely succeeded in presenting us an emphatic film on homing pigeons that were used in WWI and WW2 to deliver messages and 'spy' on enemy activity.

The movie is a clever mix of historical photos and film shots of live pigeons and the perfectly chosen background music and soundtracks make the film even more impressive. Even those who have no real interest in (homing) pigeons, will be moved when seeing the birds, the camera's hanging on their breasts, bravely airborne in spite of the serious dangers facing them.

Of course the notion 'brave' is given by us, humans, but it is the same 'human' value showing us the pigeons with their 'record of service' at the end of the film. It is good to see that they were not all killed in battle but at least a number of them were able to live on in a more pleasant way of life.

All together we are presented with a view of 'pigeons in war-time', a registration of an important part of those battles, but which also raises questions on other more subtle facets of this practice. It is a pity that the film does not further examine these aspects.

The film has truly earned its place in the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Museum and we join in the filmmakers appeal to 'Join them in The Flight, slow down, think and remember'.

"The Flight" reviewed by Dennis Wall, writer, pigeon fancier, administrator and owner of "Independent Pigeon Race Results"(IPRR), UK's website.

From the moment I clicked the 'Start' button on the DVD player I was captivated by this astonishing and enthralling short film depicting facts, not fiction, of homing pigeons and their exploits in World Wars 1 & 2.

This is truly an educational film that should be made available to as many people as possible of all ages, to enlighten them of the heroics that pigeons performed in two world wars, saving many human lives in the process.

Not only were they dropped behind enemy lines in containers attached to small parachutes to be released by resistance and freedom fighters, they were released from mobile lofts, tanks and aircraft to carry vital messages back to headquarters sometimes many miles away, in all kinds of weather, through enemy gunfire.

Some even carried miniature cameras attached to the front of their breasts to photograph areas of hostile territory. Many failed to survive enemy gunfire, others were severely wounded, losing various parts of their anatomy in the process but many remained airborne in spite of the dangers to deliver their urgent and valuable messages and film.

Alessandro Croseri has captured many of these heroics on film with no voice dubbing, but perfect background music and soundtracks that makes this short film so impressive and compulsive viewing.

Let us not forget that pigeons were honoured with more animal 'Victoria Crosses' than any other animals that assisted in the war efforts and Alessandro Croseri has presented us with insights into the various circumstances.

I thoroughly recommend this short film to pigeon fanciers and non fanciers alike. My only regret was that there is insufficient time available on the film to cover many more of these pigeon exploits in more detail. Should he ever decide to make a full length feature film on the same subject, I for one would be near the front of the queue for my cinema seat ticket.

Northamptonshire Ramblings" by Russell Bradford, writer, "British Homing World", pigeon fancier and pigeon judge, England.

I’ve done most things in the pigeon sport from judging at Blackpool to scraping out race crates for the BICC; from dining in the House of Commons to waiting hours for the transporter that never comes, but never before have I been asked to be a film critique, and the person who has asked me has presumably more faith in me giving a sound appraisal, than I have of myself being capable. We are back to the opening paragraph, when I said that the World Wide Web has opened many a different door for fanciers. My own web site attracted a completely unsolicited request a few weeks ago from a film producer living in New York no less, to receive a copy of his film on DVD titled “The Flight” and review it and write an appraisal in this column in the BHW. Never one to shun a challenge I agreed, and after an exchange of ‘e’-mails with a gentleman called Alessandro Croseri to determine if my DVD would play an American version of his film, a little cardboard box arrived in the post last week, with a professionally presented DVD inside.

Al, (as he signs his ‘e’-mails) lives on East 21st Street in New York, and the film opens with sight of two pigeons dropping out of a sputnik type trap, from his apartment some 16 floors up, with the sounds of a jumbo jet overhead. Just imagine trapping your birds on race day (or any day infact) 16 floors up at a window amongst literally thousands of other panes of glass. That in it self must have taken some training, but I digress. The film is not long, lasting just short of ten minutes, and on first viewing evoked a feeling of nostalgia, coupled to pride at being involved with a small feathered creature that had clearly performed so gallantly and saved so many lives. The film is a mix of still photographs that have been ‘zoomed-in on’; old film clips from the war and in black & white; modern day colour and some sepia. There are photos and clips well merged together, showing pigeons being released from the First World War trenches to battle tanks in the second war; from mobile American lofts to sailors liberating birds off warships, and all this with no voice over at all – just music. I didn’t recognize the first few minutes of music background but the sound of Amazing Grace throughout the last five minutes warranted turning up the volume.

As the DVD cover itself states the film is a homage to the bravery of homing pigeons who saved thousands of lives, and amongst the pigeons featured are;- G I Joe, who evidently saved over 1,000 lives and won the Dicken medal. It would (as any good film critic will inform you) be giving the game away if I documented every last detail of all the pigeons included in the film, but perhaps suffice to say some of the birds featured include a bird who lost a foot and still lived on for eleven more years; another who flew no less than 52 missions and lived for 20 years despite losing a left eye; and other pigeons whose feats of endurance and bravery make you truly wonder if you ever dare question today’s conveyors who might possibly have let the race birds up with a chance of rain down the line, or a bit of mist around the edges. Fantastic pigeons all of them! The film concludes with shots of the first two birds returning to their 16th floor home to bring us back to modern times, and a feeling that the DVD had only scratched the surface and the film would potentially have been enjoyed even more, had it run four or five or even six times longer. I now await the call from the British Film Industry to review their latest multi-million pound blockbuster production…….…Oh just been nudged awake! Seriously though I do thoroughly recommend you obtain a copy of this DVD if you can, and watch (see as it is hopefully just a prelude to a longer version forthcoming in due course. I think they call that an appetite taster.

"The Flight" featured in "News From Scotland" by Joe Murphy, writer, "British Homing World" and "The Racing Pigeon".

This article is also on "Elimar Pigeon Services," UK's website. Click Here for Article




The Flight Museum Collections

Yankee Air Museum, Michigan, USA

American Air Museum, Imperial War Museum Duxford, United Kingdom

Imperial War Museum London, United Kingdom

U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Museum, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, USA

The Flight Publications

The British Homing World, United Kingdom

The Racing Pigeon, United Kingdom

The Racing Pigeon Digest, United States of America

Aviculture Europe, The Netherlands

Australian Racing Pigeon Journal, Australia

Feather Fancier, Canada


"G.I. JOE" 1943-1961

G.I. JOE's Dicken Medal citation reads,

"For prompt delivery of a message to XII Air Support Command, thereby preventing the bombing of advanced elements 56th (London) Division."

“G.I. JOE,” a dark checker pied white flight cock, was hatched March 24, 1943, at the Pigeon Section in Algiers, Algeria, North Africa. Later he was taken to the Tunisian front, then to Bizerte, and from there to the Italian front.

On October 18, 1943, "G.I. JOE" delivered a message in Colvi Vecchia, Italy, that prevented the British 56th Brigade from becoming the target of Allied Bombers. The British 56th Brigade was scheduled to attack the city of Colvi Vecchia, Italy, at 10 a.m., October 18, 1943.

The U.S. Air Support Command was scheduled to bomb the city to soften the entrance for the British Brigade. The Germans retreated leaving only a small rear guard and as a result the British troops entered the city with little resistance and occupied it ahead of schedule.

All attempts to cancel the bombings of the city, made by radio and other means of communication, had failed. "G.I. JOE" arrived in time at the Fifth Army Headquarters with the message that the Brigade had occupied the town the bombers were scheduled to bomb. He flew 20 miles in 20 minutes. Had the message arrived five minutes later it would have been too late to stop the planes as they were preparing to take off for the target.

"G.I. JOE" is officially credited with saving 1000 Allied soldiers lives. In 1946, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Bracewell Smith, awarded "G.I. JOE" the Dicken Medal. "G.I. JOE" was the only American war pigeon to receive the Dicken Medal.

After WWII, "G.I. JOE" was retired at the U.S. Army’s “Hall of Fame,” the Churchill Loft at the Signal Corps Pigeon Breeding and Training Center, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. When the Army closed out the Pigeon Service in 1957, "G.I. JOE" was transferred to the Detroit Zoo, and died on June 3, 1961, at the age of 18.


"PADDY" 1943-1954

Paddy's Dicken Medal citation reads,

"For the best recorded time with a message from the Normandy Operations, while serving with the RAF in June, 1944."

Paddy's Plaque Transcript

"During World War II, pigeons were used by the forces as message carriers. Paddy was one of thirty pigeons delivered by the RAF Hurn to operational units of the First US Army on June 8th, 1944. They were to be used in connection with a secret task, code named "U2." Paddy was released in Normandy at around 8.15am on June 12th, carrying coded information on the Allied advance. He returned to his loft in Hampshire in just 4 hours and 50 minutes. This was the fastest time recorded by a message-carrying pigeon during the Normand landings. For his services, Paddy was awarded the Dicken Medal on September 1st, 1944. He had previously served at RAF Ballykelly on Air-Sea rescue missions. Andrew Hughes JP, of Carnlough was the proud owner of Paddy. He handed over several of his pigeons to be trained, along with others, for service with the Forces. Paddy lived for eleven years, and to date, is the only Irish recipient of the Dicken Medal, which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross." Larne and District Historical Society

Paddy's plaque was unveiled on the harbour wall in Carnlough, Ireland, on Saturday, September 19, 2009 by 88 year old pigeon fancier, John McMullan, who helped train Paddy and was a friend of Captain Andrew Hughes.

"Paddy was the last pigeon to be let go by the Americans in Normandy and he was the first one home. He was the best of the lot, the best of thousands," John McMullan.

"Paddy the Pigeon"
Song written & composed by Liam Kelly
Vocals by John Ritchie
Performed at The Londonderry Arms Hotel After The Plaque Unveiling Ceremony

Click Here to Listen to Song

Photographs courtesy of Liam Kelly, Chairman of Larne and District Historical Society


I share this news with great sorrow. John Mc Mullan, 88 year old pigeon fancier, who helped train Paddy, WWII Irish War Pigeon Hero, passed away on October 23, 2009.

John will always be remembered with Paddy and his dear friend Capt. Andrew Hughes.

I received the following email from Liam Kelly.

Hi Alessandro,

I regret to have to tell you that John Mc Mullan passed away on 23rd October, 2009. He was admitted to hospital three days after unveiling the plaque. One of his friends told me that he was determined to unveil the plaque even though he was feeling ill. Apparently John had cancer.

I feel comforted by the fact that he was with us long enough to have fulfilled his wish to see a plaque dedicated to Paddy.

Your friend,




Allan Cecil from the Maidstone Racing Pigeon Club, Royal Pigeon Racing Association (R.P.R.A.) sent me these photographs that were taken at the March 2009 Kent Game Show, U.K. To follow are his comments.

"The man in the photo below your posters is Cyril Pearce a pilot who served at Detling in Maidstone near where we had our pigeon stand at the Kent Game Show. He was a Spitfire Pilot in 1944, No1 Squadron, Mark 9 Spitfires. They did not have any pigeons to take out as they were for the Bomber Crews. I believe he is a holder of the DFC."

A little girl falls in love with a red checker on her visit to the Kent Game Show.



I received an email from Jack's grandfather, Michael O'Neill. His correspondence is below. Please help us nurture and encourage the love that Jack has for his pigeons. If you have a ring or 2 that you could send Jack for his band collection, we would be very grateful. Please email Mick at: for the mailing address.


"My name is Michael O Neill. I live in Belfast, Ireland. After breaking my spine 10 years ago, now, I'm unable to work. 2 years ago, I had my first grandchild, Jack. After visiting a friend (Bill), Jack was brought out to see Bill's homers. Jack loved the birds.

My friend Bill, suggested I get a small loft built for Jack and myself as an interest for us both. I said, "How can you tell a child to keep looking in the sky, your birds are coming?" Bill said, "Get fantails." So that's what I did. A friend sent me a one loft race ring and said I should start collecting rings from other countries and hopefully when Jack's older he will keep it up. Better having a hobby of pigeons and ring collecting than when he's older standing on street corners drinking or abusing people.

We only started keeping pigeons last year. I'm hoping when Jack's older, we can sit down with a big world map and set the rings on each country they came from. Collecting rings, learning where each country is and having your own fantails as a child, it doesn't get much better.

Jack loves his birds and even helps with the scraping."

So what's happening in Belfast, Ireland? It's breeding season and Jack is raising some youngsters.

Jack and his baby sister, Nadine, one years old, future pigeon fancier.

Jack giving Nadine some tips on how to feed the pigeons.

Mick, Jack and I, would like to thank all of the pigeon fanciers whom have so kindly and most generously sent Jack bands and other items for his collection.