From the beginning, Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger knew that the success of airmail was not in proving mail could be flown over ever-increasing distances, but that in proving it could be flown on a regular schedule. Without Congressional funding for the service, aided by wide-spread public support and excitement, Praeger's vision was unobtainable.
The army turned operations of the airmail service over to the Post Office Department in August. The department hired army Captain Benjamin Lipsner, Major Fleet's second-in-command, to run the service. Lipsner resigned his commission and became the First Superintendent of the Air Mail Service. The first flight operated by the Post Office Department took off from College Park, Maryland, on August 12, 1918.
Superintendent of the Air Mail Service Benjamin Lipsner, with American flag in hand, passes it to airmail pilot Max Miller prior to an airmail flight in November 1918.
Standard Aircraft Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, produced six specially ordered aircraft for the U.S. Post Office Department. These special mail airplanes were marked with mailbags on both sides of the fuselage.
Envelope post marked from one of the early September 1918 pathfinding flights between New York and Chicago.