That Time a Lion Crash Landed in Arizona

Leo the MGM Lion 1928

In the aftermath of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic solo flight Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided to capitalize on the nation’s interest in aviation by hiring a trick pilot to fly mascot “Leo the MGM Flying Lion” on a cross-country publicity tour from California to New York. Jackie, a 350-pound African lion was actually the second of seven “Leos,” and the first to give voice to the logo with his mighty roar. He was loaded onto a specially outfitted plane that was heavily laden with tanks of milk and water, a custom-built 400-pound steel cage, and 3200 pounds of fuel. The flight path took the plane over the north end of Phoenix toward the Mazatzal Mountains, but when the Mogollon Rim suddenly loomed ahead the pilot realized his overburdened aircraft wouldn’t have the power to rise above it.

Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s Official State Historian, shares the little-known tale of the 1928 crash landing of filmdom’s most famous living logo in what is today known as Leo Canyon. Program is included in museum admission; free for museum members.