PILOT STORIES: Bradley,
||April 3, 1919
|Air Mail Service Ended:
||August 13, 1919
||College Park, Maryland
Lieutenant Charles E. Bradley was an old army
buddy of James C. Edgerton who, by 1919, was the Chief of Flying
for the service. Late in 1918, Bradley had written to Edgerton
asking for a position. On January 2, 1919, Edgerton wrote
to his friend at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen,
Maryland to tell him that he was sorry but "as far as
applications for the Aerial Mail Service are concerned, we
will not be able to accept any until we have the time to construct
adequate ships. We have had to call off the program because
of unsuitability of the de Havilland."
"I was certainly glad to hear from you
again and will be glad to see you any time that you may be
in Washington. Remember me to all the fellows. If you care
to drop me a line two or three months hence I may have something
better to offer."
Bradley tried again, and in late May, he received
a letter notifying him of openings that would be available
at the first of April. "The requirements are that you
will agree in writing to fly the mail airplanes whenever directed
by the Department regardless of weather conditions and that
on days of poor visibility, you will fly by compass over the
clouds, fog, snow, or rain, whenever it is possible to climb
above them. Unless you are prepared to pilot the mail airplanes
under these conditions do not accept this position. All appointments
will be made at an entrance salary of $2,000.00 per annum,
with an automatic increase of ten per cent upon the satisfactory
conclusion of each 100 hours in the air, up to $2,800.00 per
annum after which increases up to $3,000.00 will be made only
in consideration of special technical or executive qualifications
of unusual meritorious performance of service.
"If you desire to accept a position in
this service under these conditions telegraph your acceptance
not later than March 26th and report to this office in Washington
not later than April 1st for duty."
May 21, 1919, Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger
received a telegram from Harry W. Powers, Belmont Park airmail
field manager regarding an errant flight of Charles Bradley.
According to his telegram, "Bradley forced to land at
Bath Beach, Brooklyn account fog. Everything OK. Mail sent
to Bath Beach Post Office to be forwarded to New York. Low
Showing his characteristic disregard for pilots'
concerns over visibility while flying, Praeger responded to
Powers that he should "tell Bradley to come through
by compass. Perfect weather conditions this end. We must fly
or we must give up the service. Every pilot should be advised
of this. Many a pilot has flown over fog and clouds. Ask Bradley
to make the effort."
Life as an airmail pilot did not agree with
Bradley, and on August 13, 1919, he resigned from the service.
Click here to learn more about early problems
with the de
Havilland airmail airplanes.