From single to triple engine crafts, biplanes
to single wingled airplanes, an assortment of airplanes were
used to carry the mail. Only eight years after the Wright
Brothers' historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,
airplanes were carrying mail on experimental, semi-official trips.
Fred Wiseman and Earle Ovington of the U.S. both piloted mail in 1911. The same year, Henri Pequet carried airmail in India, while Gustav Hamel flew mail in England. The fad of carrying mail
through the air had moved from balloon to heavier than air
craft, and was about to take its next steps.
World War I, surplus army airplanes were donated to the Post
Office Department for airmail use. These JN-4 "Jennies"
and de Havilland airplanes, originally designed for military
use, had to be modified to meet the demands of regularly scheduled
First the postal service, then private companies,
commissioned airplanes designed for the rigorous demands of Air
Mail Service. Some, like the twin de Havilland and Junkers-Larsen
JL-6, proved deadly to the service's pilots. Other aircraft,
manufactured by companies such as Douglas, Ford and Boeing,
helped provide airmail with the steady reliability that was
needed to make the service something Americans could count
on day in and day out.