His name's Sherman, he's gainfully employed after being homeless and he's donating his spare time to sharing the love at Whanganui Airport.

Sherman is the Wanganui Aero Club's feline and he's become quite the cat's pyjamas around the wider airport area, keeping club members and airport and airline staff company as well as befriending passengers on commercial flights.

Aero club flight instructor and committee member Leroy Johnston said the club bought Sherman, now about 6 months old, from the SPCA to be a hangar cat.

He's an honorary member of the club and his official duties are to keep birds out of the hangar and the mouse population in check.

Advertisement

"He's been doing a great job of that," Johnston said.

But for the adventurous young Sherman being a hangar cat wasn't enough so he went in search of new friends and excitement.

Now he's a regular at the airport terminal, on hand for most Air Chathams flight departures and sometimes even trying, unsuccessfully, to board the plane.

Wanganui Aero Club flight instructor Leroy Johnston says Sherman is a hit with club members, airport crews and the public. Photo / Bevan Conley
Wanganui Aero Club flight instructor Leroy Johnston says Sherman is a hit with club members, airport crews and the public. Photo / Bevan Conley

"He's become very familiar with airplane noise so he hears the Saab coming in to land and has pretty much learned the Air Chathams schedule," Johnston said.

"The Air Chathams crew frequently feed him bacon from their breakfasts at the airport cafe. He's a hit with the flight attendants, pilots and ground staff.

"A lot of people want to adopt him because they think he's a stray so we're getting him a collar and tag. We're going to use a 'remove before flight' label for the collar and the tag will say he's an honorary member of the club."

In the latest instalment of Sherman's adventures, he went for a short flight in an aero club plane.

Sherman gets a bird's-eye view on his first flight. Photo / Wanganui Aero Club
Sherman gets a bird's-eye view on his first flight. Photo / Wanganui Aero Club

"He often sleeps in the planes so it's become a regular part of pre-flight checks to ensure Sherman isn't in or around the planes," Johnston said.

Advertisement

"He was in there when we were taking a plane out on Saturday and he didn't freak out at the noise. He was comfortable there in taxi practice so we took him for a flight.

"He absolutely loved it. He jumped out afterwards, licked himself and walked over to someone for a pat.

"It's perfectly legal to take pets flying with you in private operations."

Now if I push this button just a whisker... Photo / Wanganui Aero Club
Now if I push this button just a whisker... Photo / Wanganui Aero Club

Aviation grade ear muffs are available for dogs and the club is looking to source something similar for Sherman to protect his ears if he goes flying.

"We have people in the club who fly with their dogs regularly in light aircraft but I can't say I've seen a cat keen to go on a flight before," Johnston said.

"We've always had a hangar cat but we haven't been able to take any of our previous cats flying. He's not scared of any of the noise."

Sherman will soon be sporting a collar incorporating a
Sherman will soon be sporting a collar incorporating a "remove before flight" label. Photo / Bevan Conley

Sherman sometimes gets a bit too adventurous. He's found himself trapped between the double set of security doors in the airport terminal and he has had to be retrieved from the airfield a few times.

The club has been overwhelmed by the interest in Sherman after its Facebook post and photos showing his first flight. The post has been shared hundreds of times and attracted comments and reactions from people around the world. Follow Sherman's adventures on the Wanganui Aero Club Facebook page.