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PILOT STORIES: The Army Pilots

. . . [military airmail pilots are] doing pioneer work in an entirely new field, where there are no precedents to follow.
Flying, July 1918

There were so many things wrong with our airplanes and their engines that we worked all night to get them in safe flying condition. For example, one gas tank had a hole in it and we had to plug it up with an ordinary lead pencil. Next morning, one machine was flyable, so at 8:40 a.m. I took off for Washington, where I landed at 10:35 at the [Polo Grounds] in Potomac Park. The mail was due to start twenty-five minutes later.
Major Reuben Fleet, on preparations for the May 15, 1918 airmail flights.

The U.S. Army provided the airplanes, ground crews, pilots and instruction for the world's first regularly scheduled Air Mail Service. The flights, which began May 18, 1918, connected Washington, D.C. and New York City through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Army relinquished control of the service to the Post Office Department in August 1918, but their connection to airmail did not end there. During a contracting scandal in 1934, Army pilots flew the mail again for a brief period.

Click here to learn more about The Army Pilots.

1918 takeoff of Jenny Praeger, Chance, Burleson and Wilson
Lipsner with unidentified airman in front of a Jenny aircraft Army-flown Jenny crashed nose first
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) 1918 takeoff

(top right) Praeger, Chance, Burleson and Wilson

(bottom left) Lipsner on right

(bottom right) Army-flown Jenny crashed nose first
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