Birth of an Industry

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Advertisement for airmail service

Virtual Exhibit
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A flag containing the official emblem of the US Airmail Service. c. 1924-1926

Though difficult to believe, the beginnings of the modern civil aviation industry lie within the Post Office. Indeed, it was airmail that started the United States on its way to the system of airports and airways that millions of Americans travel on a daily basis.

The story of US Airmail began when the Wilson administration was elected and added a new senior staff to the Post Office Department. Postmaster General Albert Burlson, and Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger, seeking to make the Post Office Department faster, more efficient, and more powerful, decided to push the idea of flying the mail on Congress.

The Post Office Department aligned itself with the Army in order to start the mail flying. However, as the Post Office was not particularly apt to share jurisdiction with the Army, they quickly dropped the Army, took over operations, and thus our story begins.

Created by Kevin Finley