Have you ever met anyone who was born on 29th February? Believe it or not, across the world there are about 5 million leapers, as people born on the extra day that comes every four years during a leap year are known.

Meeting someone born on an aeroplane is considerably more difficult!

As you may already know, women can fly with most airlines until they are 36 weeks pregnant. Some children, however, are in more of a hurry to be born than others, just like Shona Owen, who was born on board a Boeing 747 in 1991.

born on aeroplane

Shona, now a travel journalist (could there have been a job more suited to her?), did some research to find other people in the world who had a special passport like hers. Passports belonging to people born on an aeroplane are a bit different: they say, “Holder Born on an Aeroplane”. According to Shona’s research, from 1929 to now, 49 people have been born while flying.

But what nationality is a baby born 10,000 metres (33,000 ft) up in the air? The rules vary depending on the parents’ nationality and on the country that they are crossing. For example, in countries where the jus soli (right of the soil) is effective, such as the United States, Canada, Tanzania, Lesotho and a large part of Latin America, a baby born in an aeroplane automatically becomes a citizen of the country “above” which they were born. In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, the same rule only applies if one of the parents is a British citizen. Most Arab countries, however, give the baby the father’s nationality instead.

People like Shona have a great story to tell, which is exactly why her parents named her Shona Kirsty Yves, spelling out the word “SKY”.