Jun 21

The Steam Engine and the Automobile revolutions in the Nineteenth century had made global impact on communications, business and manufacturing across the world and peoples' lives. Invention of powered flight was a major breakthrough in the twentieth century.

Wright Brothers

The Wright brothers – Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912) – were two American pioneers who were credited for inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful motor-operated  airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered,  heavier-than-air aircraft  with the  Wright flyer on December 17, 1903, 4 mi (6 km) south of  Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers were also the first to invent  aircraft controls  that made fixed-wing powered flight  possible.

Wright Flyer exhibit at Smithsonian

Imperial Airways

Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long-range airline, operating from 1924 to 1939 and principally serving the British Empire routes to South AfricaIndia and the Far East, including Australia, Malaya and Hong Kong. Passengers were typically businessmen or colonial administrators, most flights carried about 20 passengers or less. Accidents were frequent: in the first six years, 32 people died in seven incidents. Imperial Airways never achieved the levels of technological innovation of its competitors, and was merged into the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1939. BOAC in turn merged with the British European Airways (BEA) in 1974 to form British Airways. (Wikipaedia)

Route proving

Between 16 November 1925 and 13 March 1926, Alan Cobham made an Imperial Airways' route survey flight from the UK to Cape Town and back in the Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar–powered de Havilland DH.50J floatplane G-EBFO. The outward route was LondonParisMarseillePisaTarantoAthensSollumCairoLuxorAswanWadi HalfaAtbaraKhartoumMalakalMongallaJinjaKisumuTaboraAbercornNdolaBroken HillLivingstoneBulawayoPretoriaJohannesburgKimberleyBlomfonteinCape Town. On his return Cobham was awarded the Air Force Cross for his services to aviation.

On 27 December 1926, Imperial Airways de Havilland DH.66 Hercules G-EBMX City of Delhi left Croydon for a survey flight to India. The flight reached Karachi on 6 January 1927 and Delhi on 8 January 1927. The aircraft was named by Lady Irwin, wife of the Viceroy, on 10 January 1927. The return flight left on 1 February 1927 and arrived at Heliopolis, Cairo on 7 February 1927. The flying time from Croydon to Delhi was 62 hours 27 minutes and Delhi to Heliopolis 32 hours 50 minutes.

1929 India First Day Flown Registered Cover Calcutta to London

Lot 1439, 1929 India First Day Flown Registered Cover Calcutta to London

1929.NOV.4 First Day of Issue of Air Mail Stamps Flown Registered Cover, mailed from Park Street Calcutta to Leon Pont in London England, “by Imperial Airways / India – Great Britain”. The cover is signed on back by G. Grant (the designer of the stamps) and Stephen H. Smith. 

INDIA Cover Calcutta Air Mail CENSOR GB London WW2 1942

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974) was an American aviator, military officer, author, inventor, and activist. At the age of 25 in 1927, he went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize for making a nonstop flight from New York City to Paris on May 20–21. Lindbergh covered the 33+12-hour, 3,600-statute-mile (5,800 km) flight alone in a purpose-built, single-engine Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Though the first non-stop transatlantic flight had been completed eight years earlier, this was the first solo transatlantic flight, the first transatlantic flight between two major city hubs, and the longest transatlantic flight by almost 2,000 miles. Thus it is widely considered a turning point in world history for the development and advancement of aviation, ushering in a new era of transportation between parts of the globe.

Lindbergh was an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve and received the United States' highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his transatlantic flight. His achievement spurred significant global interest in both commercial aviation and air mail, which revolutionized the aviation industry worldwide, and he devoted much time and effort to promoting such activity.

Lindberg's Solo Atlantic Flight

The Spirit of St. Louis (formally the Ryan NYP, registration: N-X-211) is the custom-built, single-engine, single-seat, high-wing monoplane that was flown by Charles Lindbergh on May 20–21, 1927, on the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight from Long IslandNew York, to ParisFrance, for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Lindbergh took off in the Spirit from Roosevelt AirfieldGarden City, New York, and landed 33 hours, 30 minutes later at Aéroport Le Bourget in Paris, France, a distance of approximately 3,600 miles (5,800 km). One of the best-known aircraft in the world, the Spirit was built by Ryan Airlines in San Diego, California, owned and operated at the time by Benjamin Franklin Mahoney, who had purchased it from its founder, T. Claude Ryan, in 1926. The Spirit is on permanent display in the main entryway's Milestones of Flight gallery at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Detail views of the Ryan NYP "Spirit of St. Louis" (A19280021000) made during conservation work in Gallery 100, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., July 22, 2015. Cowling. Photos by Eric Long. [_T8A5480]

100 Years of Airmail

First Airmail Service in the World

  • History was created on February 18, 1911 when Henri Piquet took off in a Humber Biplane from the right bank of the Yamuna at Allahabad crossing over to the left bank and dropped a mail bag containing 6500 letters and Post Cards at the Naini Railway Station. India thus became the first country in the world to fly air mails.
  • After this pioneer effort, India was also the first country to introduce air mail Post Card in 1931.
  • The first Regular airmail service which was started in 1920, operated between Mumbai (Bombay) & Karachi.
  • After independence, on January 30, 1949, Shri Rafi Ahmed Kidwai then Minister of Communications, introduced the “All-up Mail Scheme” under which all the First Class domestic mail was airlifted without any surcharge.
  • India Post has been commemorating these historic events by issuing sets of postage stamps from time to time. Some of the important stamps issued in past are:
    1. First Airmail Post Golden Jubilee (set of 3 stamps) – 1961
    2. Air Mail (set of 4 stamps) – 1979
    3. 75th Anniversary of 1st Aerial Post (set of 2 stamps) – 1986
    4. 150 years of India Post – 2004
    5. India Post Freighter – 2009.