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
>> They Died Flying the Mail
>> Rest of the Best
Tales from 5000 ft.
Contract Pilots
Mail by Female
Pilot's Gear

PILOT STORIES: Rest of the Best

Weather, poor instruments, old aircraft and maintenance errors were among the threats to airmail pilots' lives and missions. To survive the elements, the demands of the service and even their own airplanes, early pilots had to be a brave and inventive bunch. When E. Hamilton Lee's engine caught fire in flight, he side slipped to lose altitude fast, as "it kept the flames away from my face and allowed the air stream to blow out the fire." Fire out, Lee continued on his flight.

Pilot James Hill used cigars to time his flight path in bad weather. As soon as he was airborne in Cleveland, he lit a cigar. When it reached the point that it was burning his fingers, he knew he was near the landing field in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Once in particularly bad weather, pilot Frank Yager "flew" in heavy fog by driving his airplane on the ground. Pilot Wesley Smith used a half-empty whiskey bottle as a flight level indicator.

Did you know?The earliest airmail pilots were rightfully distrustful of their airplane's instrumentation panel. The few instruments installed aboard the JN-4H "Jennies" and the Standard JR-1Bs rarely functioned well. Pilot Harold Lewis scoffed that the instrument panel "is just something to clutter up the cockpit and distract your attention from the railroad or riverbed you're following."

Between 1918 and 1926, over 200 pilots were hired to fly the U.S. mail for the postal service. For many, their time spent as an airmail pilot was the highlight of their lives. These pilots are listed below, along with the year they were hired to work for the Air Mail Service.

To learn more about any pilot, click on a name.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y

A  
>> Allen, Edmund T. "Eddie" 1925
>> Allison, Ernest M. "Allie" 1920
>> Amberg, Irwin S. 1920
>> Ames, Charles Hayden* 1920
>> Anglin, Charles Hugh "Pop" 1919
B  
>> Balestier, E. Jr. 1921
>> Barker, Hugh 1924
>> Barnes, James Maurice 1924
>> Barr, W. Morrison 1920
>> Basker, Earl F. 1920
>> Benedict, Cecil R. 1920
>> Berry, H.M. 1921
>> Bertaud, Lloyd W. 1924
>> Biffle, Ira O. 1918
>> Bishop, Lester F. 1918
>> Black, Grover C. 1920
>> Blanchfield, William F.* 1921
>> Boggs, Stanhope Stewart 1920
>> Boonstra, Henry G. 1921
>> Bowen, L.L. 1925
>> Bradford, George 1919
>> Bradley, Charles E. 1919
>> Braukman, Clarence A. 1920
>> Brooks, Thomas Webb 1924
>> Brown, Eugene 1920
>> Brown, Henry J. 1925
>> Brown, Howard C.* 1920
>> Budwig, Gilbert George 1919
>> Bunting, Walter M.* 1920
>> Burnside, Frank H. 1923
C  
>> Carlson, Augustus F. 1918
>> Carroll, William M.* 1920
>> Chandler, Harry A. 1920
>> Charlton, John P. Jr.* 1919
>> Christensen, James Titus* 1920
>> Cole, Christopher C. 1918
>> Collins, Marion S. 1924
>> Collins, Paul F. 1921
>> Collison, H.A. 1921
>> Colyer, Charles B. D. 1920
>> Conrad, Glenn V. 1920
>> Cook, Harvey Weir 1920
>> Cooper, Edwin O. 1920
>> Cox, Arthur S. 1920
>> Crader, Herbert M. 1919
>> Crozier, Frank H. 1919
D  
>> Davis, E. C. 1920
>> Davison, Dan 1918
>> DeHart, Dana 1918
>> DeWald, William N. 1920
>> Dickman, Frank A. 1919
>> Doty, Lyman W.* 1918
E  
>> Eaton, John L. 1920
>> Eaton, Samuel C. 1919
>> Edwards, J. Paulding 1918
>> Ellis, Robert H. 1919
>> Eversole, Carroll C. 1918
F  
>> Fanning, Lloyd A. 1920
>> Filmore, William H. 1919
>> Fitton, Robert O. 1920
>> Fry, Trent C. 1918
G  
>> Galvin, Patrick J. 1919
>> Gardner, Edward V. 1918
>> Garrison, Lawrence H. 1920
>> Gautier, Robert* 1920
>> Gertson, Louis 1918
>> Gilbert, Clarence A.* 1924
>> Graeb, Irving 1918
H  
>> Haight, Edward M. 1920
>> Hamilton, Mark A. 1919
>> Harding, Lowell S. 1919
>> Harris, Joseph P. 1919
>> Hefron, Bernard M. 1920
>> Henry, William Carter 1919
>> Hill, James D. 1924
>> Hogue, Mark C. 1920
>> Holcomb, William R. 1920
>> Hopson, William C.† 1920
>> Hubbard, Edwin C. 1918
>> Huking, Harry W. 1920
>> Hyde-Pearson, Leonard Brooke* 1923
J  
>> James, Clifford A. 1919
>> Jewett, Alfred L. 1920
>> Johnson, C. Eugene 1921
>> Johnson, Edward A. 1918
>> Johnson, Norman W. 1920
>> Johnson, Ralph J. 1924
>> Johnston, Homer W. 1920
>> Jones, Russell G. 1920
>> Jones, William H. 1920
K  
>> Kaufman, Stephen T. 1925
>> Kiser, Daniel 1921
>> Knight, James H. "Jack" 1919
L  
>> LaJotte, Charles 1920
>> Lamb, Dean Ivan 1918
>> Lambert, W. C. 1921
>> Lamborn, Charles W.* 1919
>> Lange, Clarence C. 1923
>> Langley, Leroy E. 1918
>> Lee, E. Hamilton 1918
>> Leonhardt, Elmer G.* 1919
>> Levisee, Rexford B. 1920
>> Lewis, Harold T. 1919
>> Lewis, William E.* 1921
>> Lindley, William 1918
>> Little, Harold P. 1922
>> Little, Raymond J. 1920
>> Logg, David G. 1919
M  
>> Maroney, Edward S. 1921
>> Marshall, R. C. "Tex" 1920
>> Martin, Daniel A. 1920
>> McCandless, W. J.* 1919
>> McCoun,Thomas B. 1919
>> McCusker, Frank* 1918
>> McDonough, W. J. 1920
>> McGinn, Leo J.† 1923
>> McGregor, Kenneth C. 1919
>> McLaughlin, John J. 1920
>> McMullen, Bryan* 1920
>> Micelli, Paul 1919
>> Milatzo, John F.* 1923
>> Miller, John M. 1919
>> Miller, Max* 1918
>> Moore, James F. "Dinty"* 1920
>> Morgan, Herbert P. 1921
>> Morgan, William V. 1920
>> Mortensen, Joseph L. 1920
>> Mouton, E. E. "Monte" 1920
>> Murphy, Irving M. 1919
>> Murray, James P. 1920
>> Myers, George I. 1923
N  
>> Nichols, Elmer E. 1920
>> Nutter, Farr 1919
O  
>> Oakes, Paul S.* 1919
>> O'Donnell, Edward C. 1920
>> Oleson, Clifton P. 1921
P  
>> Page, Randolph Gilham "Dizzy" 1919
>> Paine, Topliff O. 1920
>> Palmer, Frank 1920
>> Phillips, G. C. 1920
>> Pickup, Christopher V. 1920
>> Pomeroy, George I. 1924
>> Pond, George Richardson 1922
>> Pugh, Lawrence G. 1918
R  
>> Radoll, Robert W. 1922
>> Reed, Ralph A. 1920
>> Riddick, Merrill K. 1919
>> Riddlesbarger, Rufus 1920
>> Robillard, Fred S. 1919
>> Robinson, Frederic A.* 1919
>> Rowe, Hiram H.* 1920
S  
>> Santa Maria, Oscar B. 1920
>> Scott, Paul P. 1920
>> Seward, Franklin M. 1923
>> Shank, Robert F. 1918
>> Sharpnack, Jack W. 1920
>> Sherlock, Harry C.* 1920
>> Short, Shirley J. 1923
>> Skoning, John 1919
>> Smiley, Helen Bullis 1921
>> Smith, Arthur Roy* 1923
>> Smith, Carl B.* 1918
>> Smith, Dean C. 1920
>> Smith, Harry G. 1920
>> Smith, Howard F.* 1920
>> Smith, Lawton V. 1918
>> Smith, Leon D. 1918
>> Smith, Paul 1919
>> Smith, Walter J.* 1919
>> Smith, Wesley L. 1919
>> Springer, Thomas Eric 1920
>> Stancill, Leslie Earle 1919
>> Starkey, H. Clay 1920
>> Steele, Dunn K. 1918
>> Stein, Ernest F. 1920
>> Stevens, Walter H. S.* 1919
>> Stewart, B. M. 1920
>> Stewart, Kenneth M.* 1920
>> Stoner, Clayton W.* 1919
>> Striker, Wallace M. 1920
>> Sykes, Julian J. 1918
T  
>> Taylor, Berkley Hill 1918
>> Taylor, William L. 1920
>> Thompson, Harwell C.* 1920
>> Todd, Chauncey R. 1919
U  
>> Unger, Kenneth Russell 1920
V  
>> Vanatta, Elmer R.* 1920
>> Vance, Clare K. 1920
>> Vervoort, Lambert H. 1918
W  
>> Wagner, Reuben L. 1923
>> Ward, Earl F. 1923
>> Warde, Wilfred B. 1920
>> Webster, Clifford Lawrence 1919
>> Webster, John O. 1921
>> White, Earl F. 1919
>> Williams, Warren D. 1920
>> Winslow, Burr H. 1920
>> Woodward, John P.* 1920
>> Wright, Richard W.* 1920
Y  
>> Yackey, Wilfred Alonzo Jr. 1921
>> Yager, Frank R. 1920


*Pilot died during his service as a pilot for the Post Office Department
†Pilot died while flying the mail as a contract pilot after the service was transferred to commercial carriers.

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