The Stinson Reliant Airplane

All American Aviation (AAA) used aircraft like this in a series of airmail pick-up experiments in a selection of Pennsylvania and West Virginia communities without municipal airports. This unusual system began on May 12, 1939 and was modeled after the Railway Mail Service’s mail-on-the-fly service. These airplanes collected and delivered mail and express packages at communities without landing. They were fitted with a long take up with a hook and a winch that caught and reeled in mail containers. The experimental service never turned a profit and the company discontinued it in 1949.
(On loan from the National Air and Space Museum.)

Location: 
Atrium
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Narrator: Not all towns could afford an airfield.

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With this plane, airmail could be delivered without even landing.

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A wire was stretched between two tall poles.

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Outgoing mail was placed in a large rubber bag and hung from the wire.

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Extending a pole with the hook, the airplane swooped down, snatched up the bag,

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and reeled it in.

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Incoming mail was simply dropped from the plane in another rubber bag.