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PILOT STORIES: Allen, Edmund T. "Eddie"

Air Mail Service Began: July 10, 1925
Air Mail Service Ended: June 30, 1927
Total Hours Flown: 1126.34
Total Miles Flown: 109,669
Assignment: Cheyenne

Airmail pilot Edmund Turney "Eddie" Allen was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 4, 1896. Prior to his airmail experience, Allen flew as a test pilot for a series of organizations and companies. He was a graduate of the University of Illinois and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Allen was hired as an airmail pilot on July 10, 1925. Five days later, he was assigned to report at the Cheyenne, Wyoming airmail field. In a letter from General Superintendent Carl F. Egge to Harry W. Huking, superintendent of the service at Cheyenne, Egge noted that "Mr. Allen has a very good record as a pilot," but suggested that as with all pilots new to a route, Allen needed first to learn it by flying day and night in test runs as well as by trailing mail airplanes on the route.

Two weeks after he began flying out of Cheyenne, Allen had his first forced landing when heavy fog and low visibility forced him down at the Laramie, Wyoming emergency landing field at 10:25 p.m. Weather kept him there over night. He was not able to takeoff in his de Havilland airplane #400 until the next afternoon at 1:30.

On December 7, 1925, Allen was forced down again, this time in de Havilland airplane #369 near Park City, Utah, on a field owned by J. J. Fletcher. Once again, it had been bad weather that had forced him down. This time, ground fog at Salt Lake City had prevented his landing there. As he noted in his report, he spied a horse-drawn wagon on the field, but he thought he had ample room to miss it. But, while he watched out of the left side of his cockpit while landing, he hit the wagon with his right wing. Fortunately, no damage was sustained by the horse, wagon or its driver. Allen's airplane, however ended up with a broken lower left wing landing edge and damage to the fuselage that was bad enough that the craft had to be trucked to the Salt Lake City field.

Bad weather forced Allen to make other unscheduled landings in his airmail career, but fortunately none of them were serious. After the service was turned over to private hands in 1927, Allen continued to fly.

When the Post Office Department turned the airmail service over to private contractors, Allen heard that the pilots' old cold weather gear was being turned over the pilots. "I would very much like to have these things which I used in carrying the mail over the Rockies for the Air Mail Service, as a personal memento, -- an expression of appreciation of unusual services, for I gave the very best I had in me to the Air Mail Service."

In the 1940s, Allen was working as test pilot for Boeing aircraft. On September 21, 1942, Allen tested the first of the company's top-secret XB-29 prototype Superfortress bombers. Twenty minutes into his test of the second prototype of the bomber on February 19, 1943, Allen radioed that the craft was on fire and he was returning to the field. He never made it. The airplane crashed into the nearby Frye Packing plant, killing Allen, ten crewmen and nineteen workers in the factory.

Letter from Superintendent Carl F. Egge to Manager Harry W. Huking on Allen's transfer. Telegram of appointment
  Eddie Allen
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Letter on Allen transfer

(top right) Telegram of appointment

(bottom right) Eddie Allen in the 1940s
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