On August 12, 1918, the Post Office Department took charge of the U.S. airmail service. Department officials bought and ordered aircraft, hired pilots to fly them, and began mapping out airmail routes across the country.
The U.S. Airmail Service played the leading role in the development of commercial aviation. The money the fledgling industry received for carrying mail gave the airlines the capital and incentive to maintain and expand their routes and upgrade their services.
If the first commercial airlines had relied only on paying passengers, none would have survived its first year. In the early years, some carriers made 95 percent of their revenues from carrying the mail on contract airmail routes, known as CAMs.
Click on the links below to learn more about the role of the U.S. Post Office Department in the creation of America's commercial aviation industry.