100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Air Mail In Illinois

Frederick J Wiseman of Santa Rosa, California, was the first person in the US to carry a letter sanctioned by a postal official. In February 1911 Wiseman made a flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa and brought along 50 newspapers, a sack of coffee for a grocer and three letters from the local postmaster. He had engine trouble and it wasn’t until the next day he completed his 14 mile flight. It would have been faster if he had walked.

The first airmail in the United Kingdom took place in September 1911 when Gustav Hamel of the Grahame-White flying school flew 19 miles in 10 minutes to a meadow on the royal farm at Windsor in Berkshire with a bag containing messages for King George V and other members of the British royal family.

The first “official US airmail” took place in September 1911 when Earle L Ovington was appointed by US Postmaster General Frank H Hitchcock to fly mail for the United States Post Office at the Nassau Island Long Island Aviation Meet. The 500 foot drop split the bag open scattering mail everywhere. Demonstrations of airmail began to take place at Air Shows where patrons would pay for the novelty of having a letter or postcard flown a short distance.

On September 26, 1912 the Postmaster of McLeansboro, Illinois established a postal sub-station at the Fair Grounds at McLeansboro where the Aviation and Street Circus was taking place. Aviator Horace Kearney flew from the fair grounds about one mile to a point close to the McLeansboro post office where the mail pouch was dropped from the plane. The mail was then retrieved and brought to the post office. Earle L Ovington was present and signed postcards as the “first” airmail pilot.

“Mail like the cost of living had certainly been high today”

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