On May 15, 1918, the United States officially established its airmail service with inaugural flights between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. Army planes and pilots were used on the first flights. Three months later, the Post Office Department took over airmail operations with planes and civilian pilots of its own.
The Museum's airmail exhibit, Airmail in America, highlights the contributions of the daredevil civilian pilots who risked their lives to fly the mail. In all, 32 pilots were lost, including four who died when their planes caught fire in flight, thirteen who were killed when their planes crashed into obstacles, and ten who perished when their planes burst into flames while making emergency landings. Despite the odds, a handful of daring pilots rose to the challenge.
Lipsner was the nation's first Superintendent of Airmail Service. He was responsible for managing the fledgling flying service. He hired its first pilots, selected all early air routes, and supervised the initial acquisition of planes. At odds with his superiors when they insisted that flights be carried out during extremely bad weather, Lipsner resigned in 1920.