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AIRMAIL CREATES AN INDUSTRY: The Postal Service Takes Over

The postal service still had to prove to Congress that the economic advantages of Air Mail Service made it worth additional funding. A critical segment of the plan was the connection of the two leading U.S. business centers, New York City and Chicago, Illinois. Congress agreed to test flights between New York and Chicago, provided the distance could be covered by airplane in less than ten hours. Anything more than that, and mail could be transported faster by train.

In September 1918, Air Mail Service Superintendent Benjamin Lipsner sent two of his best pilots on a path-finding flight from New York City to Chicago, Illinois. Among the challenges they would face on this route were the Allegheny Mountains, considered by some to be the most dangerous territory on the route.

On September 5, 1918, the pair left New York. Miller flew in a Standard airmail airplane with a 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. Gardner followed in a Curtiss R-4 with a 400-horsepower Liberty engine and was accompanied by mechanic Eddie Radel.

As each pilot landed to refuel or make repairs, he eagerly contacted Lipsner in Chicago to find out where the other one was. A set of telegrams now in the National Postal Museum tracked the pair's progress. Miller landed in Chicago first, at 6:55 p.m. on September 6. Gardner arrived the next morning, landing at 8:17.

Click here to go back to the Short Summary of The Postal Service Takes Over.

Related Link:
>> New York-Chicago pathfinding flights.

Lipsner and Miller Standard airplane
  Envelope from September 1918 flight
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Lipsner and Miller

(top right) Standard airplane

(bottom right) Envelope from September 1918 flight
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