Notes from the Past

Early History of the American Air Mail Service - Part IX

Air Mail Service goes Civilian (Cont.)

Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger was impressed by Captain Lipsner's business-like approach to flying the mail.  On July 15, 1918, announced that Captain Lipsner has been appointed Superintendent of the Aerial Mail Service.  His first challenge was to gather a civilian flying operations team of pilots and mechanics to take over on August 12, 1918.  He managed to hire a group of pilots all of whom had been civilian flight instructors with over 1,000 hours of flying time.  Similarly qualified people were also hired as mechanics.

In addition to civilian personnel, new airplanes were used.  The Air Mail Service also moved its Washington base from Potomac Park to College Park Airport just north of the Washington, D.C., line.  This was the oldest continuously operating airport in the United States.  There, on August 12, 1918, pilot Max Miller initiated civilian operation of the service.

Miller took off with an inaugural American flag handed him by Mrs. Benjamin Lipsner and 222 pounds of mail in his Standard JR-1B mail plane.  He departed at 11:35 am and arrived at Bustleton at 1:00 pm.  The other initial civilian flights on the other legs also were successful.

 Posted April 8, 2000

Editor's Note:  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.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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