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PILOT STORIES: Lee, E. Hamilton

Air Mail Service Began: December 29, 1918
Air Mail Service Ended: June 30, 1927
Total Hours Flown: 4220.43
Total Miles Flown: 382,426
Assignment: College Park, Maryland
  February 1, 1919 – Bustleton Field
  February 10, 1919 – Belmont Park
  September 20, 1919 – College Park
  July 29, 1920 – Chicago
  September 16, 1920 – Omaha
  October 16, 1920 – Chicago
  March 1, 1921 – Minneapolis
  July 1, 1921 – Omaha
  August 1, 1921 – Chicago
  June 10, 1924 – Hazelhurst
  December 16, 1924 – Hadley Field
  January 1, 1925 – Maywood, Illinois

Along with Jack Knight, E. Hamilton Lee was one of the most remarkable pilots to come out of the U.S. Air Mail Service. Lee was born in Paris, Illinois on April 18, 1892. He made his first solo flight on June 16, 1916 at Ashburn Field in Chicago.

Many of the U.S. Air Mail Pilots were in love with the danger of flight, as much as the fun and excitement, and many took risks that were not part of flying the mail. Lee could certainly count himself among that crowd, until a particular incident in which he survived a crash after trying to "buzz" a group of men on a Mississippi River boat. Lee did not see wires that lined the side of one river bank, and his landing gear and one wing caught them, forcing him down. Fortunately, he survived the crash, but determined then and there to live to the credo that there are "old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold, pilots."

After his airmail service ended, Lee flew for United Airlines, retiring from the company in 1949. At the time of his retirement, he had flown longer and farther than any other flyer alive.

 
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Forced landing report

(top right) Lee

(bottom left) Lee
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