DCSIMG
National Postal Museum logo
Top Image
Pilot StoriesHistoric PlanesAirmail Creates an IndustryObject ShowcaseHistory TimelineActivity ZoneFlight School
The Army Pilots
No Old, Bold, Pilots
>> The First Four
>> Max Miller
>> Eddie Gardner
>> Maurice Newton
>> Robert Shank
>> They Died Flying the Mail
>> Rest of the Best
Tales from 5000 ft.
Contract Pilots
Mail by Female
Pilot's Gear

PILOT STORIES: Eddie Gardner

Eddie Gardner, who began flying the mail in 1918, had been nicknamed "Turkey Bird" by fellow pilots who thought his wobbly takeoffs resembled a turkey trying to fly. Somewhat insulted, Gardner insisted on shortening the name to "Turk Bird," which he considered more acceptable. He had already logged over 1,400 hours of flight time and was working as a senior flight instructor for the Army when Gardner was asked to join the newly-formed Air Mail Service.

Did you know?Before taking to the air, Eddie Gardner spent several years working as a chauffeur and mechanic in Chicago, Illinois. He had a love of auto racing, and in 1910 he purchased a sporty National Motor Vehicle Company racing car from Benjamin Lipsner (who, as the first superintendent of the Air Mail Service, hired Gardner as an airmail pilot).

On May 15, 1919, Eddie Gardner, who had made the only moderately successful Chicago - New York trip during the path-finding tests, took off from Cleveland with the west-bound mail, landing in Chicago three hours and 50 minutes later. Having survived his years in the airmail service, Eddie Gardner died on May 6, 1921 while stunt flying at a Kansas county fair.

Click here to learn more about Eddie Gardner.

Eddie Gardner in JN-1B at College Park Gardner on airplane, Shank to right
Gardner next to Jenny at College Park Telegram from Praeger congratulations on Sept 1918 flight
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Eddie Gardner in JN-1B at College Park

(top right) Gardner on airplane, Shank to right - mechanics at College Park

(bottom left) Gardner next to Jenny at College Park

(bottom right) Telegram from Praeger congratulations on Sept 1918 flight
View Our Collection
Postal Museum | Smithsonian | Privacy | Terms of Use | Site MapBottom Navigation
Top of page link to homepage