United States Air Mail Service photographs

About this collection

    The first use of air mail in the United States occurred in September, 1911 from Garden City, New York to Mineola, New York. Other experimental airmail flights followed. In 1918, Congress appropriated funds to set up an experimental air mail route between New York City and Washington, D.C., with a stopover in Philadelphia.
    Although initially operated with the cooperation of the War Department, the Post Office Department assumed full control of this service later that year. With the success of this air mail route, plans were made to complete a transcontinental route from New York to San Francisco. Congress passed the Kelly Air Mail Act in 1925, which got the government out of the air mail business. It required private carriers to bid on Contract Air Mail (CAM) routes set up by the Post Office.
    The collection consists of photographs taken during the first years of the United States Post Office Department air mail service. Many of these photographs are portraits of individual air mail service pilots. Several photographs taken in 1911 at Garden City, New York, on the occasion of the first official air mail flight, are also part of the collection. Airplanes used by the Air Mail Service appear in many of the images.
    Image: Air mail plane, crashed. November, 1926. Click here to view this photograph in the digital collection.

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