Cincinnati’s First Airmail
Paul Peck was born in Amstead, West Virginia in 1889. He learned to fly in two weeks. As a first lieutenant in the US Army he was one of only three officers chosen by the War Department to learn to fly under Glenn H Curtiss. He was issued pilot license #57 by the Aero Club of America in July 1911. In August 1911 he was the first person ever to fly over the U.S. Capitol Building and circle the Washington Monument, thrilling crowds and covering 24 miles in 25 minutes, setting a speed record. When the first U.S. military aviation school opened at College Park, Maryland in 1911, Peck was an instructor.He was given the honorary title as “colonel” by a local governor. In May 1912 he set the American duration record when he remained in the air for 4 hours, 33 minutes and 15 seconds. Peck is among the very first pilots ever hired for the experimental US Airmail service and he made regular deliveries from New York City to several Long Island towns.
On July 19, 1912 Lt. Paul Peck landed on the racetrack at Coney Island, an amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio named after the famed park in New York. Progressive reformers had been closing race tracks around the country and the venues were sore need of rvenue so the Coney Island racetrack was used as a runway. Peck carried a sack of mail filled with postcards sold at Coney Island and stamped “U.S. Official Aerial Mail”. The bag was dropped on a ball field and was picked up by Frank Beatty, the assistant to the Cincinnati Post Office Superintendent. It was Cincinnati’s first official airmail.