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The Airplanes

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From early planes that could barely clear a few feet off the ground, to planes that could carry passengers and mail across oceans and continents, a wide range of aircraft have been used to carry the mail. You can learn more about some of these planes by clicking on the links below.

Wiseman-Cooke on display in the museum

The Wiseman-Cooke

Fred Wiseman flew the first government sanctioned airmail on this plane on February 17, 1911. The 17 mile trip between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, California took two days to complete.

Curtiss Jenny in flight

The Curtiss Jenny

Originally designed for service as a training plane during World War I, the Curtiss Jenny was the first plane used by the U.S. to carry mail on a regular schedule.

side view of the deHavilland DH-4

The deHavilland DH-4

The deHavilland DH-4 was the workhorse of the U.S. Airmail Service. Officials had originally planned to use other aircraft for the bulk of their schedules, but the other, hurriedly built or modified airplanes were no match for the strength and stamina of the deHavillands.

Stinson Reliant on display in the museum's atrium

The Stinson Reliant

The Stinson Reliant SR-10F on display in the National Postal Museum was used for an experimental service. These planes were eqipped with hooks and rigged so they could capture specially rigged mailbags without landing.

plane readying for flight

Ford's Tri-Motor and the Douglas M-2

Once private contractors took over airmail service, they began using a variety of aircraft. Two of the most interesting were the Douglas M-2 bi-plane and Ford's single winged Tri-Motor.

a Clipper flying above New York City

The Romance of the Clippers

Immediately popular with the public, the Pan American "Clipper" aircraft helped connect the U.S. with the world.

a DC-3 on a runway

The DC-3s

With the advent of the DC-3, private contractors were able, for the first time, to carry enough passengers cheaply enough to be able to begin to break free of their reliance on Airmail Sevice funds.