Instead he had picked up a furry hitchhiker for the journey from Birmingham Airport to the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, near Helston in Cornwall.
Tigger the kitten spent the ride clinging to the rear bumper of Lieutenant Nick Grimmer’s BMW, and it was not until the following day, when he heard a “very quiet meowing” coming from his car, that he began to investigate.
The 32-year-old, who flies submarine-hunting Merlin helicopters with 814 Naval Air Squadron, known as the Flying Tigers, said: “I’d landed at Birmingham after a holiday and travelled via Bristol and Bath before arriving in Cornwall quite late.
“I looked in the boot, under the bonnet, and climbed all over and under it and still couldn’t find what was making the noise.
“I called up some of our air engineers who came and helped me to start dismantling my pride and joy. On taking off the rear bumper we were greeted by a tiny tiger-striped kitten.
“He must have had a long journey but remarkably is unharmed. I am never late for work and was left with no option but to take my new friend in with me.
“The place he has felt most comfortable is in my flying helmet, which is the only place he is able to sleep.”
Efforts are being made to trace the kitten’s owners.