Featuring Research Volunteer Contributions


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Telegram to A. F. Cryder, September 1918

In 1918 the Post Office Department turned to the telegraph to monitor the progress of its newest endeavor, the airmail service. The proposed New York City-Chicago airmail route was the Department's response to business's need for swift mail communication.

Sent between September 5 and 10, this series of telegrams helped postal officials track the progress of pilots Eddie Gardner and Max Miller as they flew the NYC-Chicago route. For the service to succeed, mail must be carried between the cities in a single day. Businesses would not support the more costly airmail service if it did not move faster than railway mail trains.

The experiment was monitored by Otto Praeger, second assistant postmaster general in charge of the airmail service, and Benjamin K. Lipsner, superintendent of the airmail service. Lipsner had selected his two best pilots, Max Miller and Eddie Gardner for the flights. Out of the four attempts to reach their destination in less than ten hours, only Gardner's Chicago-to-New York City flight was deemed a success.

Lynn Heidelbaugh, National Postal Museum