Mail Service Began:
||August 12, 1920
Mail Service Ended:
||October 16, 1920
||College Park, Maryland
||Sept. 7, 1920 – Chicago,
||Oct 1, 1920 - Omaha, Nebraska
Brian McMullen was killed while flying the Chicago-Omaha
route in bad weather. Forced down near Batavia, Illinois,
McMullen's airplane stalled while he was trying to squeeze
into a small field. The aircraft spun into the ground. The
gas tanks exploded, trapping the pilot in the flames.
McMullen's life and accident was recorded
in the Washington Post
From October 22, 1920:
BRYAN McMULLEN TRAPPED IN FLAMES
Gasoline Tank Explodes as airplane Strikes Ground
Bryan McMullen, whose home was at Dallas, Texas, a pilot
who had joined the aerial mail service a month ago, was
burned to death last Saturday morning near Batavia, Illinois,
when in attempting to make a landing: his airplane struck a
telephone wire and crashed to earth bursting into flames.
McMullen was said to be one of the best pilots at the field
and had always been a steady, conservative flyer, never
attempting fancy spectacular stunts. McMullen left the Checkerboard
Field Saturday morning; at 5:52 o'clock carrying a load
of mail for Omaha. At 6:20 o'clock Mrs. George White, wife
of a farmer at Bald Mound, near Batavia, saw the airplane descending
and called her husband. They were watching the airplane glide
towards the ground when it struck the wire, flopped over
like a giant bird that had been shot, and landed in the
field upside down.
Burst Into Flames
Almost immediately it burst into flames, and White and his
wife rushed to the rescue of the aviator. The flames were
so intense, however, they could not get near enough to aid
him and his body, strapped to the seat, was almost entirely
burned up. The larger part of the mail cargo was also destroyed.
McMullen had been flying quite low for some miles prior
to the accident, showing he either had lost his way in the
fog or was having some trouble with his motor.
An Overseas Veteran
McMullen was an overseas veteran. His wife came here a few
days ago and then went to Omaha to establish a home, following
his assignment to the Chicago-Omaha mail service. E. M.
Majors, in charge of the air mail service here, flew to
Batavia to investigate the accident and take charge of the
According to his mother, McMullen should not
have been allowed to make his fatal flight. "My son
had an accident on the first of the week and was in no physical
condition to fly the mail on the morning of Saturday, October
16, 1920. He did so against the advice of his physician and
co-flyers and the result was owing to his weakness, and I
feel now an old disabled ship, he had this fatal accident."
McMullen, like many of the airmail pilots, was given to shaking
off injuries and pain in order to fly again. Sometimes it
was for personal pride, sometimes for the 5 cents per mile
that pilots received in addition to their annual salaries.