Air Mail, Which Helped Create Modern Aviation, Began 100 Years Ago Today

Before their was e-mail, there was air mail, and the very first air mail letter was sent on this date 100 years ago, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Eric Gruber of the National Postal Museum says Air Mail marked the true birth of aviation as a business.

“Today’s commercial aviation industry is the direct result of the Post Office’s vision of a century ago,” he said. “And of the brave pilots who wanted to be a part of that history marking milestone.”

Indeed, Air Mail gave pilots their first opportunity to make a living by flying, outside of the military.  

After he received Army aviation training  at what was then called Brooks Field, Charles Lindbergh’s first civilian job was flying the mail from St. Louis to Chicago.

Pioneering aviators James Edgerton, who went on to become Chief of Staff for the Army Air Corps during World War Two, and William Boeing, who went on to start the aviation company that bears his name, both got their start flying air mail.

“The idea of getting mail from one place to another through the skies gave birth to Air Mail in the United States in 1918,” Susan Brownell of the U.S. Postal Service said.

The concept of ‘Air Mail’ ended in 1975, when the Post Office began sending most long distance mail by air, ending ‘Air Mail’ as a specific concept and ending the domestic ‘Air Mail’ stamp.

While letters from George Washington were carried on board the first balloon flight in North America on January 9, 1793, the first scheduled Air Mail flight, for which a special Air Mail stamp was used, took off from the National Mall in Washington D.C. on May 15, 1918, bound for Philadelphia and New York City.

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