AIRMAIL CREATES AN INDUSTRY:
Creating a Nocturnal Flyway
triumph of coast to coast service in the fall of 1920 was
short lived. By early 1921, Praeger was back in Congress fighting
for airmail funding. He had asked for $3.5 million but received
only $1,250,000 for the year. The Post Office Department was
the target of Congressional inquiries over its use of non
airmail postal funds to support the service. The inquiries,
combined with continued criticism over deaths and injuries
to airmail pilots due to unreliable equipment or forced flights
in bad weather, put airmail service officials in an uncomfortable
Praeger needed to convince Congress that the
service was useful, even potentially critical to the nation.
Among the criticisms aimed at the service was though exciting,
it was only slightly faster than train service. Pilots, unequipped
for night flying, were forced to land at dusk. Mailbags were
transferred to trains which carried them through the night
to another airmail field, where they were placed back aboard
aircraft and flown through the day. To regenerate the excitement
Praeger needed from Congress and the public to secure further
funding for the service, he needed to set it up to fly mail
around the clock.
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a Nocturnal Flyway.