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.
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
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
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
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?
COME FLY WITH ME
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.