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If the first airline companies had relied on paying passengers for income, none could have survived. In the early years, some carriers made as much as 95 percent of their revenues from carrying the mail on contract airmail routes, known as CAMs.

The first five CAM routes were contracted in 1925 to Colonial Air Transport, Inc. (Boston to New York); Robertson Aircraft Corp. (Chicago to St. Louis); National Air Transport, Inc. (Chicago to Dallas); Western Air Express, Inc. (Salt Lake City to Los Angeles); and Walter T. Varney (Elko, Nevada, to Pasco, Washington). Contracted airmail service proceeded slowly over the next couple of years. The U.S. Air Mail Service retained control of the transcontinental New York San Francisco route, making its last flight on that route on September 9, 1927.

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Curtiss Condor aircraft  
  Western Air Express
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Curtiss Condor aircraft

(bottom right) Western Air Express
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