Air Horse One: The Horse Airline

This “airline” allows horses to get to far away places for an affordable price.

Air Horse One getting ready for takeoff after loading 12 horses on board.


Air Horse One getting ready for takeoff after loading 12 horses on board.

Jameson Kowalski, Columnist

The process to get a horse to a race or event is simpler than many think. While most people may assume that horses are transported cross-country on large equestrian trailers, the truth is a lot more interesting and entertaining. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on gas and other expenses by driving, many owners will fly their horses to the destination. The most popular and most trusted plane is Air Horse One.


Aviation Outlet says that Air Horse One is a converted Boeing 727-200. The history of the aircraft before it was sold is unknown. What is known is that the plane was sold off to Tex Sutton Equine Air Transportation, a subsidiary of larger airline cargo group Kalitta Air, in 1969. When the plane isn’t carrying horses across the country, it can be quickly changed into your average cargo jet. The plane can carry a maximum capacity of 12 horses at a time.

Air Horse One provides better service for horses and their owners than other shippers.  USA Today says that while UPS and Fedex also offer equine travel, it doesn’t provide the same authentic experience. Tex Sutton offers cheap rates of only $5000 for a one way trip. While that may seem expensive, it provides food and a stall for the horse while traveling. Tex Sutton also focuses on animal comfort, making sure that the horse doesn’t get startled while flying by using a specially designed stall. 

For comfort, the handlers make sure to feed the horses a bundle of hay and water during the flight. They also keep the cabin at a cool 55 ℉ so that the horses can relax. CNET says that to get the horses off of the aircraft, they use a special red-and-white ramp. The ramp has astroturf mats and high side-walls to make sure the horses are comfortable and safe. Once the horses disembark, the plane is cleaned and either converted to a cargo jet or loaded with a new batch of equine passengers.

Air Horse One is one of the quirkiest, yet most efficient, cargo jets out there. Unfortunately for Tex Sutton, the remaining 727s in the skies are getting older and cost more to maintain. With Tex Sutton being owned by a large group, it is highly likely that the jet will be retired and the services transferred to its owner, Kalitta Air. Nevertheless, horse owners will likely continue to rely on this odd service for the transportation of their horses.