Warde, Wilfred B.
Mail Service Began:
||October 25, 1920
Mail Service Ended:
||March 7, 1921
||College Park, Maryland
||November 16, 1920 –
Hazelhurst Field, New York
Wilfred Warde's career as an airmail pilot
was a few short months. His performance did not greatly impress
his superiors. He made a forced landing on February 2, 1921
near Greeneville, Pennsylvania that left his field manager
and the superintendent of the Air Mail Service questioning
his skills and judgment.
On February 3, 1921, Warde filed this report
of his forced landing in de Havilland airplane #39:
The reason for my forced landing two
miles West of Greeneville on Smith's Stock Farm, Feb.
2nd, was due to the motor overheating. I selected a very
good field but in landing I couldn't pull the wheel
control back sufficient to get the tail down. As a result
the landing gear hit the ground too hard and gave way. However,
the four rear struts of the landing gear did not break and
finally dug into the ground causing the ship to turn over
on her back.
I had to fly about two hundred feet
above the ground as the clouds were very low. Visibility
was bad on account of snow and haze. The mail was trained
on #8 on the Penn. R.R. leaving Greeneville at 2:30. I made
arrangements for an end-door box car and the agent is to
notify Cleveland upon arrival of car. No damage was done
to crops as the field was frozen.
Parts broken on ship were: -- Front
struts of landing gear, all four wings slightly, radiator,
propeller. Belief fuselage is O.K.
Warde's boss, J. E. Whitbeck, Superintendent
of the New York – Cleveland Division, and Second Assistant
Postmaster General Otto Praeger, found no fault with Warde's
determination to keep the mail moving, but questioned the
reason for his forced landing.
On February 9, Otto Praeger wrote to Whitbeck,
noting Warde's "excuse for the wreck that he could
not pull the wheel back and as a result the ship hit the ground
in a flying position instead of in a landing position. It
is the belief of this office that this is no reason at all
and a very poor excuse. This office has been watching the
work of this particular pilot for some time and it is believed
that his services can be dispensed with without detriment
to the service."
Warde was fired, but tried later that year to
get his job back. He wrote to Praeger on October 19, 1921.
"Sir: As a former Air Mail Pilot I would
appreciate a review of my case.
I have never been able to really find out
why I was released.
I believe if my record is compared with the
records of some of the pilots who were on the New York –
Cleveland Division it will compare favorably or perhaps
better than some of the other records. At the time I was
on that run the ships were in pretty bad condition and quite
a few were smashed up. I realized the condition they were
in and quite often returned to the field of departure as
in my judgment they were not capable of getting thru without
a forced landing and possible wreck in the hills of Pennsylvania.
As long as a ship was in fair condition I would always get
thru no matter what the weather even with a few forced landings
thrown in for good measure.
My flying record in the Army was always very
satisfactory as any of my commanding officers will vouch
for, and had always thought my record was O.K. until my
release came thru without any warning and I was dropped
without any appropriate excuse, from the Air Mail Service.
Hoping that I may get some justice I still
offer my services to the Air Mail Service as Pilot and hope
to be flying the Mails again someday for the Post Office
Despite his pleas, Warde did not work again
as a U.S. Air Mail Pilot after his original dismissal.