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From your editor: Air Mail Pioneers need not have worried. Thanks to the Internet, their goal to perpetuate the history of the U.S. Air Mail Service and emphasize its contribution to commercial aviation succeeds to an extent they could only have imagined in their wildest dreams.

Over the past six months we ve received hundreds of "hits," meaning e-mail contacts; it s impossible to do justice to them all. For example: students request information for school projects; families seek genealogical data; national news organizations want documentary information; people inquire about the value of airmail memorabilia.

A summary: My personal favorite came from a highschool sophomore named Chris. He was writing a paper on the history of airmail and wanted a copy of a newspaper headline highlighting the first airmail flight. I suggested the Benjamin Lipsner s collection (first superintendent of the Air Mail Service) at the National Postal Museum website. It features the 1918 cover photo of Aerial Age Weekly showing a picture of the DH-4 U.S. Mail plane in flight. He was thrilled.

More: ABC and PBS requested information about the Service for documentaries on early aviation. A French gentleman inquired about his relative Charles A. LaJotte, an airmail pioneer. A grandniece of Elmer Leonhardt learned about her uncle s participation in the first day/night transcontinental and his tragic death in a crash two years later. A pilot with Frontier Airlines found a Wild Bill Hopson photo in an antique store.

Still more: The grandson of Air Mail Pioneer Everett T. Drinkwater inquired about him. A correspondent owns the propeller of the first airmail flight. A man is looking for Curtiss Jenny parts. Another asked to identify a print of the first airmail field. One questioned if Wesley Smith is J. Wesley Smith? (Probably not.) A woman said her great uncle, Russell Duskek, not a member of the Air Mail Service, was decapitated by a propeller in the mid 1900s. An English professor inquired about grappling hooks that snatch mail bags. I sent a woman ten pages of information about the Air Mail Service. A gentleman, seeking to honor pilot Sumner B. Morgan of Honduras, asked if anyone knows of him.

What s new on the AMP website? We now have background music playing selections from "oldies but goodies." A section entitled Visitors Seeking Information answers web viewers questions. I added additional search engines. (Indexes that lead viewers to our site.) I upgraded the presentation to give our website a more professional look and increase its maneuverability.

If we could afford it, we could include video footage of two Air Mail Service milestones: 1. May 15, 1918, loading the mail, take-off of the first plane, presence of President Wilson.

2. "Old 249," flown by J.W. "Bill" Hackbarth, landing at Washington National Airport to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Air Mail Service. Both videos are an ABC News Video source; the cost for just viewing them, is $40.



Don Gray, executive director of the Crissy Field Aviation Museum Association (San Francisco) hopes to create a museum in the original Crissy Field hangars, built as the terminus for the U.S. Air Mail Service. The hangar is currently being used for other purposes.

Gray would like to contact personal interested in talking about the museum s efforts. The park historian is writing a book about Crissy s history and will include information about the U.S. Air Mail Service as it relates to Crissy Field. He can be reached at (415) 221-4907.

The museum as currently acquired a de Havilland-4


Questions from the Air Mail Pioneers website so far unanswered:

Merle Moltrup of Beaver Falls, PA flew the first airmail flight from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. The aircraft was Miss Pittsburgh. Was it a Pitcairn with a 90 hp engine?

Who was the first African-American female to be awarded a flying certificate?  Where did she get it and what did she say about getting it?



The first day/night transcontinental has become a focus of MicroWINGS magazine. The magazine, a top quality bi-monthly journal, features a four-page article on the Air Mail Service s milestone, including photos and maps from the Air Mail Pioneers website.

Included in the introduction to the article: "This year will make the 79th Anniversary of this event and what better way to celebrate then to recreate it using our favorite flight simulator and discovering new scenery along the way."

Air Mail Pioneers thanks "MicroWINGS Magazine editor at Large-At-Large Jeff Smith for this fine presentation.

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copyright 1999 Nancy Allison Wright, President Air Mail Pioneers

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