Resource of the Month: Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks

This month’s featured resource are the informative and highly readable Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks. Begun in 1983 as an offshoot of various columns in Linn’s Stamp News regarding each year’s new U.S. stamps and postal stationery, the annual Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks go beyond the standard, or even specialized, catalog in providing a wealth of information regarding many aspects of each year’s U.S. releases in a convenient and thoroughly illustrated format. Continue reading “Resource of the Month: Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks”

On this day: the first successful transcontinental air mail flight

An historic event took place in postal history on this day in 1921 when the first successful U.S. transcontinental air mail flight arrived at New York’s Hazelhurst Field from San Francisco.

Air mail pilot William "Wild Bill" Hopson. Source: Daniel  Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.
Air mail pilot William “Wild Bill” Hopson. Source: Daniel Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.

Since September 8, 1920, airmail service had flown the mail back and forth from New York to San Francisco during the daytime only, transferring it to trains at night. As a result, the elapsed time for cross-country mail was 72 hours at best, or a mere 36-hour savings over the fastest all-railroad trip.

Congress, having supported the airmail service from its beginning in 1918 through its first three years, hesitated to appropriate additional funding to expand the service thinking that mail carried by airplanes would be too unreliable and unable to support the volume of mail necessary to make it viable.  Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger knew he needed a dramatic demonstration of airmail’s potential so he decided that a round-the-clock relay of mail from San Francisco to New York and New York to San Francisco in the worst possible weather would provide the best possible example of the potential of airmail as an alternative to as well as an addition to surface mail. The eventual experiment would entail night flying, strongly discouraged at the time, and seven pilots taking 33 hours 20 minutes in order to fly the 2,629-mile cross-country trip. Continue reading “On this day: the first successful transcontinental air mail flight”