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The Wiseman-Cooke Airplane

Fred Wiseman took off on February 17, 1911 with a handful of mail, flying from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California. He flew about 100 feet off the ground at a maximum speed of 70 mph. He carried letters from Petaluma’s mayor and town leaders and copies of the local newspaper. Forced down by engine trouble, Wiseman resumed his flight the next morning, using a tarp as a runway. Over a farmhouse, he tossed a newspaper to a woman working in her yard. Near Santa Rosa, a wire caught in the propeller. Wiseman was down again. Nevertheless, he stepped out to a growing, cheering crowd who picked up the pilot and his mail and drove them into town.
(On loan from the National Air and Space Museum.)

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Narrator: The era of airmail began in Petaluma, California in 1911.


An intrepid aviator named Fred wiseman


took two days to fly a handful have mail from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California.


His plane never flew faster than 70 miles per hour nor higher than a hundred feet off the ground.


Wiseman carried letters for town leaders, groceries, and copies of the local newspaper.


Passing over a woman's farmhouse, he tossed a newspaper down to her.


History doesn't know your name, but she was the first person to receive US airmail.

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The Wiseman-Cooke Airplane | National Postal Museum


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