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PILOT STORIES: Nichols, Elmer E.

Air Mail Service Began: April 26 1920
Air Mail Service Ended: May 31, 1920
Assignments: College Park, Maryland
  May 20, 1920 – Newark, New Jersey

Elmer Nichols was born on July 20, 1889 to George and Nellie Nichols. In 1917 he joined the US Army and served as an aviator during World War I. He studied law and engineering at the University of California after the war.

When he applied for a pilot's job with the Post Office Department he was 30 years old and living in New York City. He joined the service on April 26, 1920 and was sent for rookie training to College Park, Maryland. A month later, he was assigned to Heller Field in New Jersey.

On May 23, Nichols wrecked de Havilland airplane #85 at Heller Field. His accident, combined with less than stellar flight reports, convinced the service to let him go. When Nichols asked for an explanation for his firing, Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger told him, "You are advised that your separation from the service was ordered after some deliberation and was influenced somewhat by your own statement that you had experienced difficulty in landing airplanes at other times. Your performance while at College Park led to the belief that you had overcome this difficulty but your probation period at Newark proved otherwise."

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