DCSIMG

U.S. Air and Space Stamp Gallery

Air Stamps – Heavier than Air: Biplanes, Monoplanes, Jets & Helicopters


Curtiss Jenny JN-4H airmail plane, 1918, Scott C3, Engraving
Curtiss “Jenny” JN-4H airmail plane, 1918, Scott C3, Engraving
Curtiss “Jenny” plane,
1918, Scott C3, Engraving

The vast majority of the aircraft on U.S. stamps are heavier-than-air varieties—airplanes and helicopters.

Three general types of planes are shown on U.S. stamps: biplanes, monoplanes, and jets. In the early days of aviation, airplanes were built with numerous wings. The Wright Brothers’ Flyer and many of the planes that followed were biplanes, with two sets of wings— one above the fuselage and the other below it. As aircraft materials and engineering developed, the monoplane design, with a single set of wings, became more common. The first practical jet aircraft were developed toward the end of World War II.

Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436, Engraving and lithography
Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436, Engraving and lithography
Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436,
Engraving and lithography

Biplanes
Years ago, the biplanes on U.S. stamps represented the up-to-date aircraft of the day. On the first U.S. stamp to show an airplane, a 1913 Parcel Post stamp, the biplane was a modern innovation. The caption, reading “Aeroplane Carrying the Mail,” actually predated the regular airmail by six years. The first airmail stamps of 1918, followed by other stamps in the 1920s, showed the biplanes as the most modern aircraft then available.

No biplanes appeared on any U.S. stamps in the 1930s or for most of the 1940s. By the time they reappeared in 1949 (on a Wright Brothers stamp), biplanes had become a nostalgic image, harking back to the earlier age of flight. They have appeared on numerous stamps honoring aviation pioneers and milestones of aviation ever since.

Monoplanes
Usually just called “airplanes” today, monoplanes are different from biplanes because they have only one set of wings. A number of the U.S. stamps show monoplanes in the air above a well-known location, such as the Statue of Liberty or Diamond Head in Hawaii. Others illustrate the vast range of aviation, from airmail to Arctic exploration, and from combat to commercial aviation.

Jets
First developed for practical use in the last days of World War II, jet airplanes did not come into their own in the United States until some years later. Since then, jets have become increasingly important for both air travel and for military aviation because of their great advantages over the old propeller-driven designs. Jets were the image of modernity in 1958 when the Post Office issued a new sky-blue airmail stamp of a generic jet’s silhouette, reissued in “fire red” in 1960, and they are featured in a number of stamps issued in the 1990s and early 21st century.

Vietnam War scene with helicopter, Celebrate the Century (the 1960s), 1999, Scott 3188g, Engraving and lithography
Vietnam War scene with helicopter, Celebrate the Century (the 1960s), 1999, Scott 3188g, Engraving and lithography
Vietnam War scene, 1999,
Scott 3188g, Engraving
and lithography

Helicopters
Only two U.S. postage stamps had been issued with helicopter designs. The Igor Sikorsky stamp of 1988 honors the immigrant aeronautical engineer who designed the first successful modern helicopter—the Vought-Sikorsky 300 or VS-300, also shown on the stamp. In 1999, another stamp illustrated the vital role of helicopters for American forces in the Vietnam War.


Airplane carrying mail, 1913, Scott Q8, Engraving
Airplane carrying mail, 1913, Scott Q8, Engraving
Airplane carrying mail, 1913,
Scott Q8, Engraving
Curtiss Jenny JN-4H airmail plane, 1918, Scott C3, Engraving
Curtiss “Jenny” JN-4H airmail plane, 1918, Scott C3, Engraving
Curtiss “Jenny” plane,
1918, Scott C3, Engraving
Airplane radiator and wooden propeller, probably from a biplane, 1923, Scott C4, Engraving
Airplane radiator and wooden propeller, probably from a biplane, 1923, Scott C4, Engraving
Airplane radiator and
propeller, 1923, Scott C4,
Engraving
De Havilland biplane, 1923, Scott C6, Engraving
De Havilland biplane, 1923, Scott C6, Engraving
De Havilland biplane, 1923,
Scott C6, Engraving
U.S. map with two mail planes, 1926, Scott C7, Engraving
U.S. map with two mail planes, 1926, Scott C7, Engraving
U.S. map with two mail planes,
1926, Scott C7, Engraving
Wright airplane (Aeronautics Conference), 1928, Scott 649, Engraving
Wright airplane (Aeronautics Conference), 1928, Scott 649, Engraving
Wright airplane, 1928,
Scott 649, Engraving
Globe and airplane (Aeronautics Conference), 1928, Scott 650, Engraving
Globe and airplane (Aeronautics Conference), 1928, Scott 650, Engraving
Globe and airplane, 1928,
Scott 650, Engraving
Beacon on Rocky Mountains with airplane, 1928, Scott C11, Engraving
Beacon on Rocky Mountains with airplane, 1928, Scott C11, Engraving
Beacon on Rocky Mountains
with airplane, 1928,
Scott C11, Engraving
China Clipper over the Pacific, 1935, Scott C20, Engraving
China Clipper over the Pacific, 1935, Scott C20, Engraving
China Clipper over the Pacific,
1935, Scott C20, Engraving
Twin-Motor Transport, 1941, Scott C25, Engraving
Twin-Motor Transport, 1941, Scott C25, Engraving
Twin-Motor Transport, 1941,
Scott C25, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, 1946, Scott C32, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, 1946, Scott C32, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, 1946,
Scott C32, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, close-up, 1947, Scott C33, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, close-up, 1947, Scott C33, Engraving
DC-4 Skymaster, 1947,
Scott C33, Engraving
Martin 2-0-2 over the Pan American Building, Washington, D.C., 1947, Scott C34, Engraving
Martin 2-0-2 over the Pan American Building, Washington, D.C., 1947, Scott C34, Engraving
Martin 2-0-2 over the
Pan American Building, 1947,
Scott C34, Engraving
Lockheed Constellation over the Statue of Liberty, 1947, Scott C35, Engraving
Lockheed Constellation over the Statue of Liberty, 1947, Scott C35, Engraving
Lockheed Constellation over
the Statue of Liberty, 1947,
Scott C35, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser over San Francisco, 1947, Scott C36, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser over San Francisco, 1947, Scott C36, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser over
San Francisco, 1947,
Scott C36, Engraving
Airplanes and ribbon wrapped around New York City, 1948, Scott C38, Engraving
Airplanes and ribbon wrapped around New York City, 1948, Scott C38, Engraving
Airplanes and ribbon wrapped
around New York City, 1948,
Scott C38, Engraving
Postal Office Department building with airplane, 1949, Scott C42, Engraving
Postal Office Department building with airplane, 1949, Scott C42, Engraving
Postal Office Department
building with airplane, 1949,
Scott C42, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser and globe, 1949, Scott C44, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser and globe, 1949, Scott C44, Engraving
Boeing Stratocruiser and
globe, 1949, Scott C44,
Engraving
Airplane above Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1952, Scott C46, Engraving
Airplane above Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1952, Scott C46, Engraving
Airplane above Diamond Head,
Hawaii, 1952, Scott C46,
Engraving
50th anniversary of powered flight, 1953, Scott C47, Engraving
50th anniversary of powered flight, 1953, Scott C47, Engraving
50th anniversary of powered
flight, 1953, Scott C47,
Engraving
Jet silhouette, blue, 1958, Scott C51, Engraving
Jet silhouette, blue, 1958, Scott C51, Engraving
Jet silhouette, blue, 1958,
Scott C51, Engraving
Jet silhouette, red, 1960, Scott C61, Engraving
Jet silhouette, red, 1960, Scott C61, Engraving
Jet silhouette, red, 1960,
Scott C61, Engraving
Jetliner over the U.S. Capitol, 1962, Scott C64, Engraving
Jetliner over the U.S. Capitol, 1962, Scott C64, Engraving
Jetliner over the U.S. Capitol,
1962, Scott C64, Engraving
50th anniversary of airmail, 1968, Scott C74, Engraving and lithography
50th anniversary of airmail, 1968, Scott C74, Engraving and lithography
50th anniversary of
airmail, 1968, Scott C74,
Engraving and lithography
USA and jet, 1968, Scott C75, Engraving and lithography
USA and jet, 1968, Scott C75, Engraving and lithography
USA and jet, 1968, Scott C75,
Engraving and lithography
Jet silhouette, 1971, Scott C78, Engraving
Jet silhouette, 1971, Scott C78, Engraving
Jet silhouette, 1971,
Scott C78, Engraving
USA and jet, 1971, Scott C81, Engraving and lithography
USA and jet, 1971, Scott C81, Engraving and lithography
USA and jet, 1971, Scott C81,
Engraving and lithography
Statue of Liberty and jet, 1974, Scott C87, Engraving
Statue of Liberty and jet, 1974, Scott C87, Engraving
Statue of Liberty and jet,
1974, Scott C87, Engraving
Early mail plane and jet, 1975, Scott 1574, Gravure
Early mail plane and jet, 1975, Scott 1574, Gravure
Early mail plane and jet,
1975, Scott 1574, Gravure
Commercial aviation, 1976, Scott 1684, Gravure
Commercial aviation, 1976, Scott 1684, Gravure
Commercial aviation, 1976,
Scott 1684, Gravure
Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight, 50th anniversary, 1977, Scott 1710, Gravure
Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight, 50th anniversary, 1977, Scott 1710, Gravure
Lindbergh’s solo flight,
50th anniversary, 1977,
Scott 1710, Gravure
China Clipper (Martin M-130), transpacific airmail, 1985, Scott C115, Gravure
China Clipper (Martin M-130), transpacific airmail, 1985, Scott C115, Gravure
China Clipper, transpacific
airmail, 1985, Scott C115,
Gravure
Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436, Engraving and lithography
Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436, Engraving and lithography
Biplane, 1989, Scott 2436,
Engraving and lithography
Seaplane (1914), 1990, Scott 2468, Engraving
Seaplane (1914), 1990, Scott 2468, Engraving
Seaplane (1914), 1990,
Scott 2468, Engraving
History of airmail, National Postal Museum, 1993, Scott 2781, Engraving and lithography
History of airmail, National Postal Museum, 1993, Scott 2781, Engraving and lithography
History of airmail 1993,
Scott 2781, Engraving
and lithography
P-51 Mustang, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142a, Gravure
P-51 Mustang, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142a, Gravure
P-51 Mustang, 1997,
Scott 3142a, Gravure
Model B, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142b, Gravure
Model B, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142b, Gravure
Model B, 1997,
Scott 3142b, Gravure
Piper J-3 Cub, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142c, Gravure
Piper J-3 Cub, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142c, Gravure
Piper J-3 Cub, 1997,
Scott 3142c, Gravure
Lockheed Vega, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142d, Gravure
Lockheed Vega, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142d, Gravure
Lockheed Vega, 1997,
Scott 3142d, Gravure
Northrop Alpha, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142e, Gravure
Northrop Alpha, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142e, Gravure
Northrop Alpha, 1997,
Scott 3142e, Gravure
Martin B-10 bomber, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142f, Gravure
Martin B-10 bomber, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142f, Gravure
Martin B-10 bomber, 1997,
Scott 3142f, Gravure
Vought F4U Corsair, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142g, Gravure
Vought F4U Corsair, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142g, Gravure
Vought F4U Corsair, 1997,
Scott 3142g, Gravure
Boeing B-47 Stratojet, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142h, Gravure
Boeing B-47 Stratojet, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142h, Gravure
Boeing B-47 Stratojet, 1997,
Scott 3142h, Gravure
Granville Brothers GeeBee Super-Sportster, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142i, Gravure
Granville Brothers GeeBee Super-Sportster, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142i, Gravure
Granville Brothers GeeBee
Super-Sportster, 1997,
Scott 3142i, Gravure
Beech Model C17L Staggerwing, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142j, Gravure
Beech Model C17L Staggerwing, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142j, Gravure
Beech Model C17L
Staggerwing, 1997,
Scott 3142j, Gravure
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142k, Gravure
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142k, Gravure
Boeing B-17 Flying
Fortress, 1997,
Scott 3142k, Gravure
Stearman PT-14 trainer, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142l, Gravure
Stearman PT-14 trainer, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142l, Gravure
Stearman PT-14 trainer, 1997,
Scott 3142l, Gravure
Lockheed Constellation, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142m, Gravure
Lockheed Constellation, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142m, Gravure
Lockheed Constellation, 1997,
Scott 3142m, Gravure
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142n, Gravure
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142n, Gravure
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 1997,
Scott 3142n, Gravure
Boeing P-26 Peashooter, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142o, Gravure
Boeing P-26 Peashooter, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142o, Gravure
Boeing P-26 Peashooter, 1997,
Scott 3142o, Gravure
Ford Tri-Motor, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142p, Gravure
Ford Tri-Motor, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142p, Gravure
Ford Tri-Motor, 1997,
Scott 3142p, Gravure
Douglas DC-3, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142q, Gravure
Douglas DC-3, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142q, Gravure
Douglas DC-3, 1997,
Scott 3142q, Gravure
Boeing 314 Clipper, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142r, Gravure
Boeing 314 Clipper, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142r, Gravure
Boeing 314 Clipper, 1997,
Scott 3142r, Gravure
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142s, Gravure
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142s, Gravure
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, 1997,
Scott 3142s, Gravure
Grumman F4F Wildcat, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142t, Gravure
Grumman F4F Wildcat, Classic American Aircraft, 1997, Scott 3142t, Gravure
Grumman F4F Wildcat, 1997,
Scott 3142t, Gravure
First supersonic flight by Charles 'Chuck' Yeager, Bell X-1 rocket-powered plane, 1997, Scott 3173, Lithography
First supersonic flight by Charles “Chuck” Yeager, Bell X-1 rocket-powered plane, 1997, Scott 3173, Lithography
First supersonic flight, 1997,
Scott 3173, Lithography
Vietnam War scene with helicopter, Celebrate the Century (the 1960s), 1999, Scott 3188g, Engraving and lithography
Vietnam War scene with helicopter, Celebrate the Century (the 1960s), 1999, Scott 3188g, Engraving and lithography
Vietnam War scene, 1999,
Scott 3188g, Engraving
and lithography
Jumbo jet, Celebrate the Century (the 1970s), 1999, Scott 3189n, Engraving and lithography
Jumbo jet, Celebrate the Century (the 1970s), 1999, Scott 3189n, Engraving and lithography
Jumbo jet, 1999, Scott 3189n,
Engraving and lithography
Berlin Airlift, 1998, Scott 3211, Gravure
Berlin Airlift, 1998, Scott 3211, Gravure
Berlin Airlift, 1998,
Scott 3211, Gravure
First powered flight, 2003, Scott 3783, Gravure
First powered flight, 2003, Scott 3783, Gravure
First powered flight, 2003,
Scott 3783, Gravure