Apr 18


100 years of Air Mail Service

U.S. Government flown Air Mail

 The first U.S. Air Mail takes off from Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1918.

The first scheduled US airmail service connected Washington, D.C., and New York. This 218-mile route was the first step in establishing a transcontinental route by air. Transcontinental air service was the best opportunity for airmail to provide faster service at lower cost than the existing railroads. Routes like College Park to New York were only slightly faster than the railroad, but were a good laboratory for developing safe and reliable airmail operations.

Throughout the airmail’s planning, the US was preparing to fight World War I and this exposed deep flaws in American airpower including obsolete aircraft and too few pilots, both in quality and quantity. As a result, Post Office and military officials believed airmail could increase the speed of communication while also improving military pilots. By flying the mail, novice pilots would develop their long distance flying skills including aerial navigation.