Regular U. S. Airmail service began with Army pilots during World War I. Civilian pilots were soon hired by the Postal Service to fly the airmail, but the early days were a demanding —and dangerous—frontier.
Airmail provided a dependable revenue stream for the early airline industry. But before that...
May 15, 1918:
On the first day of regular, continuously scheduled airmail service in the United States, no one remembered to put fuel in the airplane sitting on a field in Washington, D.C. The first attempt to start the plane, in front of a large crowd of dignitaries that included the president, failed.
After the plane was properly fueled, the Army lieutenant selected by the Post Office for the honor of the first Washington flight took off; unfortunately, he turned southeast instead of northeast toward his intended destination of Philadelphia. He made a rough landing in a Maryland farmer’s field and phoned for assistance after he ran out of fuel.
Fortunately, the other mail being flown simultaneously that day from New York to Washington, D.C. made it through in a timely manner and the newspapers praised the new service.
Editable Microsoft Word and PDF summaries of the slideshow text,
suitable for use in creating guided notes with varying levels of support for students, are provided; Word and PDF documents with questions for students and example answers for teachers are included; and the (non-editable) 118-slide Airmail presentation is provided in both PowerPoint and PDF formats.
Learn about “the rest of the story” of the airmail in this package. Katherine Stinson, an airmail pioneer in the years 1913 and 1918, showed that women could fly the mail, too. Airmail pilot E. Hamilton Lee said, “There are old pilots and bold pilots but no old, bold pilots.” He was fired in 1919 for refusing to fly a mail route in dense fog but was soon rehired, and he lived to be 103.
And when the airmail routes were transferred to private contractors under the “Kelly Act” in 1925, the airline industry...took off.
The table of contents:
1. Earle Ovington— September 23, 1911
2. Katherine Stinson—September 22 27, 1913; May 23, 1918
3. The Army Inaugurates Regular, Continuous Airmail Service in the U.S. : May 15, 1918
4. August 12, 1918: The U.S. Postal Department Takes Over the Airmail Routes and Hires Civilian Pilots
5. Results of a “Fly or Be Fired” Policy
6. Some Lighter Moments
7. Coast-to-Coast and Nighttime Flights
8. The Contract Routes Arrive and Airlines Take Over the Airmail
9. The End and The Beginning
Instrument-rated Private Pilot and Basic Ground Instructor (BGI)
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