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A DeHavilland DH-4B, designated #294 sits in a field getting ready for takeoff. The pilot sits in the cockpit while two men run out of frame as they start the propeller. In the far back is the hanger for the airfield from which the pilot is taking off. The photo dates to the 1920s.

deHavilland DH-4B, 1920s

Airmail to Airlines

How Mail Made Commercial Aviation

The United States postal system has transported mail by horseback, ships, trains and in the early twentieth century, by plane. The U.S. Air Mail Service flew the mail from 1918 to 1927. By 1927 it had begun contracting out the nation’s airmail service to pioneers of modern day airline companies. The transition from airmail to passenger service can be viewed in the evolution of the 22 models of airplanes that were used in the years 1918 to 1936, as the airmail industry became the airline industry.

"Pilots are drawn to flying because it's a perfect combination of science, romance, and adventure."
- Charles Lindbergh

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deHavilland (model DH-4B) on exhibit in the National Postal Museum.

Where to Find Airmail Planes

List of airmail planes by state

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Eddie Gardner posed with his Curtiss JN-4H in 1918.

Airmail to Airlines

History of early airmail planes

Comparing Aircraft

Chronology of airmail planes

Resources

Bibliographic and Reference Page

Additional Information

About the Author, Credits, and Site Map