O'Donnell, Edward C.
Mail Service Began:
||September 15, 1920
Mail Service Ends:
||August 8, 1921
||College Park, Maryland
||October 4, 1920 –
Edward O'Donnell was born on September
29, 1896 in Detroit, Michigan to Michael and Agnes O'Donnell.
He joined the service on September 15, 1920. After a series
of crashes and mishaps, O'Donnell was taken off pilot rotation. On January 10, 1921 he was reclassified as a clerk
for the service, his salary reduced from $2,000 a year to $1,400.
O'Donnell requested to be reinstated as
a pilot, and secured some other pilots to lobby on his behalf.
William "Wild Bill" Hopson wrote that "O'Donnell
was the victim of a string of bad luck. In the first place
he didn't get a chance to fly often enough to get his
hand in at landings. Then he had a bunch of mechanical troubles
and rotten weather when he did get a trip. He got away safely
on most of his forced landings."
Like Hopson, E. Hamilton Lee was a well respected
pilot in the service. Lee also wrote to Superintendent D.
B. Colyer in support of O'Donnell. In a letter sent
on June 15, 1921, Lee notes that "there seems to be
no doubt that O'Donnell is an especially good pilot."
A few days later, O'Donnell himself wrote
to Colyer asking for his pilot ranking to be returned. At
this time, O'Donnell seemed to have given up any hope
of being reinstated as a full time pilot, but wanted to be
allowed to leave the service as a pilot, not a clerk.
Since being assigned as a clerk, O'Donnell
had been working at the Chicago airmail field at Maywood.
He asked one last time to be moved back on, possibly as a
test pilot. Even if he could not stay with the service, at
least leaving as a pilot would help his career. "It
is practically impossible for me to fly elsewhere before redeeming
my reputation with the mail service," he admitted to
On June 27, O'Donnell received Colyer's
final decision. Despite support from two of Colyer's
best and favorite pilots, the answer was no. If O'Donnell
was to remain in the service, it would be at the rank of clerk,
not pilot. O'Donnell left the service shortly thereafter.