Earle Ovington's Bleriot Queen and Henri Pequet's Sommerstyle Biplane

Ovington's Bleriot Queen

On May 17, 1911, Earle Ovington, an enthusiastic aviator, flew his 70-horse power Blériot monoplane over Belmont Field, soaring as high as 2,000 feet at one point. At the end of his display, he flew from the field, racing, and beating, a Long Island Railroad express train.

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Later that year, he made postal history. On September 23, 1911, Earle H. Ovington pledged an oath as the first U.S. airmail pilot before climbing in his Bleriot monoplane, powered by an Indian Rotary motor, and stuffed letters and postcards between his legs. Ovington took off from the aviation meet at the Nassau Boulevard air meet in Garden City, New York and flew the short hop to Mineola, Long Island.

Circling overhead, Ovington dropped his mail sack at the signal of Mineola's postmaster. The mailbag exploded when it hit the ground, mail scattering everywhere. Ovington made similar trips almost every day of the week-long meet.

Henri Pequet's Sommer-style aircraft

French pilot Henri Pequet, accompanied by a pair of mechanics, arrived in India with a crated airplane. The team was representing the Humber Motor Company of England at the Allahabad, India, Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition. Humber, which had earlier manufactured single-winged airplanes based on a Blériot design, had now produced what they called a Roger Sommer craft. The Sommer biplane, a modified Farman biplane (one of the aircraft Fred Wiseman's team had based their craft on), had a 50 horsepower, seven cylinder, Gnome rotary engine.

Envelopes carried on these flights

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Earle Ovington poses with a letter carrier on September 23, 1911.

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Earle Ovington flight over the temporary airmail tent in 1911.

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The September 1911 airmail station tent.

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Ovington's Bleriot aircraft, the Dragonfly.

Fad to Fundamental: Airmail in America