HISTORIC AIRPLANES: The Postal
Six Curtiss JN-4H "Jennies" were
the first airplanes to carry mail on a regular schedule. Built for and used by the army as training airplanes for military pilots,
the airplanes were donated by the army for the May 15, 1918
airmail flights. The Jennies performed well, but postal officials
knew the Jennies' tiny motors and rickety fuselages would
not be up to the demands of long term daily service. The Standard
Aircraft Corporation at Elizabeth, New Jersey, was asked to
prepare aircraft specifically for postal use.
officials waited for these airplanes, the Jennies were put into
service along the Washington, D.C. – New York City airmail
flyway. More airplanes would be needed as the service grew. Second
Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger, in charge of the
Air Mail Service for the department, worked with Postmaster
General Burleson and Secretary of War Baker to obtain additional
aircraft. Baker agreed to provide the Post Office Department
Havilland aircraft (originally designed by British engineer Georffrey de Havilland), that had been produced in the U.S.
for war service, but had not been completed before the war
The de Havillands, built for the needs of military
service, were ill suited for the needs of the Air Mail Service.
Unfortunately, it would take a number of accidents in the
aircraft to convince officials that they could not be used
without significant modifications.
New York - Chicago Route.