Baltimore Pilot Airlifts Island Cats

There are a lot of cats on the tiny island of Tangier in Chesapeake Bay. In fact, the cat population exceeds residents who number at fewer than 500.

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David Johnson was one of four pilots who helped fly cats from Tangier Island. (Photo: David Johnson)


There are a lot of cats on the tiny island of Tangier in Chesapeake Bay. In fact, “There are more cats than people on the island,” Helen Woods told the Baltimore Sun.  That realization brought Helen to coordinating the first annual cat flight off the island this past December.  The death of a local woman whose 14 cats were without a home providing an exclamation point to the situation.

“Cats were kind of infesting the island,” said Rebecca Dunivan. She operates Tangier Island Animal Rescue which seeks to find forever homes for the many feral cats on the island, something that upset her considerably when she moved to Tangier two years earlier.

The island, located off the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula, is so isolated National Guard had to organize an airlift over the frozen bay to bring in groceries as there are no resources available locally. With that in mind, Helen reached out to area pilots looking for volunteers to airlift cats out and bring cat food and kitty litter in. One of four pilots who answered the call was David Johnson.

The 70-year old retiree has a fondness for the island, having taken part in the local holly run, and flies in and out regularly. He also loves cats with two of his own at home. On a chilly December morning, after delivering cat food and kitty litter, he loaded two cats into his Grumman Tiger single engine airplane and made the return trip to Maryland Airport to hand off his cargo to a local shelter.

“A cat rescuing a cat,” he said.

If you would like to help Tangier Island Animal Rescue with their mission and commitment to the cats of Tangier Island, please visit their page at


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