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
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
Postal Service Takes Over.
York-Chicago pathfinding flights.