Notes from the Past

Early History of the American Air Mail Service - Part VII

Next Stop, Boston (cont.)

The Boston landing field was Franklin Park Aviation Field located on a race track on the Godfrey Cabot estate in Saugus -- a Boston suburb.  The area selected for the landing strip was covered with holes which had been filled with ashes.  The ashes in conjunction with heavy rain made the landing hazardous.  As luck would have it, one wheel of Webb's plane was caught in one of the holes and the plane nosed over leaving the tail in the air.  Neither Webb nor Keck was hurt but the plane was severely damaged.  The flight from New York to Boston had taken three hours and twenty two minutes including the one landing in Connecticut.

The return trip with 64 pounds of mail was delayed until June 11 to repair the plane.  Webb and Keck had an additional passenger on the return flight -- Postmaster William Murray of Boston.  This was another hair-raising flight.  Low clouds and fog forced Webb to fly just above the treetops all the way to maintain ground contact.  He was warmly welcomed by ground crews when he arrived back at Belmont Park.

The problems encountered on this experimental flight to Boston convinced management that route expansion should be delayed,  The Air Mail Service should concentrate on making improvements in the existing Washington-New York route.

To be Continued.

 Posted April 6, 2000

Editor's Note:  I wonder about the reaction of Postmaster Murray to his flight.  The illustration on Scott #1574 of the U.S. Postal Service Bicentennial Issue of 1975 was taken from a picture of Webb and his Jenny.  This series will draw on Donald B. Holmes' Air Mail -- an illustrated history 1793-1981 which is an exceptional piece of philatelic literature and The American Air Mail Catalogue Vol. 1 published by the American Air Mail Society.

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