|Across the Atlantic... A Different Adventure - Part I
The end of the First World War left the United States with a surplus of planes and pilots. Convinced that aviation had potential for mail transportation, the Post Office Department managed to persuade Congress to grant it $100,000, arguing that transporting mail would be an excellent way to train military pilots.
The Post Office Department and the army jointly directed the new service, the Post Office financing the first landing-strips, fuel, and administrative personnel needed, and the army supplying the first pilots.
1918 - Inauguration of the Air Mail Service
On May 15, 1918, the Washington Post wrote: "On this day, the air space is officially open to the American airmail."
The New York-Washington line was divided in four sections. Lieutenant George Boyle was one of the pilots who took part in the inaugural flight from Washington.
After some delays, Boyle's plane finally took off... but in the wrong direction! He telephoned from Maryland to confirm his mistake. Fortunately, the other flights were more successful. On the same day, Torrey Webb took off from New York to Philadelphia, and Lieutenant James Edgerton took off, with mail on board, for Washington. The last of the inaugural flights, from Philadelphia to New York, was completed by Lieutenant Culver.
Following the success of these first flights, the Post Office Department was given responsibility for the aerial postal service.