National Postal Museum logo
Top Image
Pilot StoriesHistoric PlanesAirmail Creates an IndustryObject ShowcaseHistory TimelineActivity ZoneFlight School
The Army Pilots
No Old, Bold, Pilots
Tales from 5000 ft.
Contract Pilots
Mail by Female
Pilot's Gear


The first regular airmail pilots in the U.S. were Army Air Service pilots who flew the mail between May 15 and August 9, 1918. These first airmail pilots flew a total of 254 trips during those months, flying mail on the first scheduled airmail route between Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York, New York.

Did you know?When the Post Office Department took command of the service in August, civilian pilots were hired to fly the mail. The postal pilots were a fascinating mix of men, including native born Americans; immigrants; former military pilots; civilian instructors; loud, brash and confident fliers; and quiet, steady and reliable aviators. The list of applicants for these positions was consistently long, and any pilot that did not live up to expectations could quickly find himself without a job.

Eight years later, the Air Mail Service was turned over to private contractors who hired their own pilots, including several of the postal pilots. Regardless of employer – Army, Post Office Department or private airline companies - pilots who flew America's airmail for the first few decades were among the most courageous pioneers of aviation.

Postal Museum | Smithsonian | Privacy | Terms of Use | Site MapBottom Navigation
Top of page link to homepage