Delivering the Goods

Published on December 2, 2015 by in Misc.

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Air Mail Stamp

The holiday season means one thing for sure …  package deliveries. And lots of them.

Most of these packages will fly on an airplane along the way. We don’t give it a second thought. This reminds me that the first air mail deliveries were once new, mysterious, and exciting to many people. More so, those flying the mail back then were a unique breed of oddball pilots.

Today, the talk is about drone package deliveries. There are both skeptics and believers. But either way, companies with deep-pockets look to make this a real thing in the not-so-distant future.

Not too long ago, Mike challenged us to watch some early air mail service videos and consider how oddball pilots were changing the world in the 1920’s. Today, I’m wondering how operating drones will change the flying world — and package deliveries. More on that later. But for now, here are a few more interesting pieces about the early days of flying air mail that we’ve gathered from around the web.

This is the Smithsonian’s take on air mail — The Quest for Speed — an interesting overview of how air mail evolved from slow and unsafe to fast and efficient.

In 1967, CBC Radio looked back at the early days of delivering mail by air in Canada. Listen to Bush pilots: The mail gets through – by air (CBC Digital Archives).

Next, this video story includes interviewing Kip Barraclough, one of the first pilots at All American Aviation. They performed the “air hook pick up,” simultaneously dropping and picking up mail without stopping. Harrowing stuff!

Finally, a short news story tells how if you’re hiking or flying near the old air mail routes, you might easily find remnants of the rather simple nav-aids guiding those early air mail pilots.

Put it all together, and you can appreciate how far we’ve come. And hopefully, that can add some perspective on where we’re going.



Air mail stamp photo by frankieleon licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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One Response to “Delivering the Goods”

  1. David says:

    My uncle said early days in Bethel Alaska using compass and time after the time expired if you did not see the expected land mark through the snow showers you returned to the beginning and flew out again looking for the land mark. Beacons perhaps provided for the return, adjusting heading eventually would work out.

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