Postage, Planes, and Landing in the Dark!

Posted by on May 15, 2008

I stopped by the post office the other day to mail some bills and noticed the postage going up yet again.  However, this is one fee I really don’t mind paying.  If you stop think about it, the few cents that we pay for stamps, enables us to drop a letter in the mail and get practically delivered worldwide within a short period of time.

It’s easy to take for granted this service, however, It wasn’t always this way….

(1)

In the era before modern transportation, mail delivery, though good, could also be chancy.  With lack of modern transportation, speed wasn’t always the best.  However, this would change with the advent and normalization of the the airmail service.  Established in 1918 through the use of Army Signal Corps planes and pilots, the inital routes were set up and included such spots as Washington and Long Island.

(2)

Pleased with the success, the early 1920’s, saw more funds and improvements, and the service expanded again.

(3)(Image used with permission. See source links below)

The money was able to bring new airfields, equipment, lights , and pilot training, all of which worked together to force advances on aviation as well as the mail delivery.  This did not go unnoticed by those in the know.  In his work, United States Post Office, author Patrick Reebel states:

“…In 1922 and 1923, the department was awarded the Collier Trophy for important contributions to the development of aeronautics, especially its safety record….”

(4)

Going beyond the equipment and just discussion of air mail in general, let’s talk about the pilots!  Famous airmail pilots include the fellow above (Look familiar?) as well as Jimmy Doolittle among others.  It took a special kind of pilot willing to fly the hazardous routes and fragile planes apt to fall out of the sky at any moment.

Facinating stuff and makes you appreciate today’s mail delivery, even though rates are not as cheap as they once were!  The links list today is pretty good.  There’s a link to some first hand flying stories, the postal museum as well Wikipedia for background.  Take a few minutes and explore…and remember next time you buy a stamp all of the history and effort focused on that little piece of postage!

Have a great day!

See you tomorrow!

Links:

Airmail in America (external site)

Today’s Document (Archives) Airmail (PDF)

Adventures in History: The Gee Bee, B-25’s, and the Medal of Honor: James “Jimmy” Doolittle

Centennial of Flight

Airmail: Wikipedia

Post Office Flies the Mail

Wikipedia: Lindbergh

The Spirit of St. Louis (Airmail section)(Google Books)

Sources:

(1)Nara

(2) Loc: Prints & Photographs Division

(3) Lindbergh Cover, Picture from Wikipedia: Creative Commons 3.0

(4)Lindbergh, AirMail (American Memory Project)

Podcast:

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