Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

North Platte Scouts carry mail at Air Mail Centennial (NE)

Recommended Posts

North Platte Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts help commemorate transcontinental airmail centennial


On September 8, 1920, a DH-4 biplane lifted off in the early morning from a grass air strip east of New York City on Long Island, beginning a grand experiment to carry mail from the East Coast to the West in a series of hops across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and points west. Regional air mail service had commenced two years earlier linking New York and Washington, D.C. By 1919, 400 HP deHavillands where regularly carrying mail sacks between Omaha and Chicago, but the September flight that now pointed its nose towards the distant Hudson would link an entire continent, but not without financial cost and human sacrifice. Those first pilots called themselves "The Suicide Club."

Air Mail 100 will commemorate that historic event, which led within the decade to the commencement of commercial passenger air service. With the encouragement of several of the nation's leading general aviation organizations, we have organized a series of volunteer flights linking the sixteen original transfer points, only seven of which continue today as active airports. The other nine have been "lost" to sands of progress, hidden under golf courses, urban shopping centers, hospital parking lots, and poetically, wind-swept grass fields again.

Twenty-three pilots will take turns handing off a mailbag, picking up special postcards along the way, starting Tuesday on Long Island near New York City and ending Friday near San Francisco.

Using their own, more modern planes, they’ll cover the same days, stops and territory — albeit at a somewhat faster pace — as the DeHavilland DH-4 biplane that first flew the route Sept. 8-11, 1920.

The relay is scheduled to land about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday at the North Platte Regional Airport — itself just a year old in 1920 — and take off 30 minutes later for Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Aviation buffs can follow the relay’s progress and read about the original flight and its airports at airmail100.com.

Only one serviceable DH-4 survives in the United States :(, he said, making it necessary for the pilots to use their own Cessnas, Beeches, Pipers and other private aircraft.

But “some of them are classic in that they’re dating back to the 1940s era,” Moore said.

Sam Seafeldt, Lee Bird Field’s airport manager, thanked Bill Moore and the pilots for seeing to it that the transcontinental airmail centennial won’t pass unremarked.

When the relay reaches North Platte, some members of Cub Scout Pack 292 and affiliated Boy Scout Troop 292 will hand off some 300 postcards to join others from previous stops.

“I told them to write grandpas, grandmas, whoever they want, friends,” said Cubmaster Sean Condon. His pack and the Boy Scout troop are affiliated with St. Patrick Catholic Church in North Platte.

Once the mailbag reaches San Francisco, Moore said, the postcards will be put in the regular U.S. mail for delivery.

Air Mail 100’s mailbag by then should weigh about 50 pounds, he said, compared with a whopping 400 pounds of mail on the original 1920 relay.

Condon said he and his fellow Scouting committee leaders were excited about the chance for their members to learn about transcontinental airmail and North Platte’s historical role in it.

“There’s so much awesome history in North Platte that goes unnoticed,” he said.

Seafeldt said the public is invited Wednesday to see the commemorative relay’s arrival and departure.





Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Update 9/8/20:

Boy Scouts were also a part of commemorating history at the Geauga County Airport. The scouts delivered postcards to be included in the airmail and to be delivered to other scouts across the country, said Jarrod Blundy, program executive for the Lake Erie Council.

"We are a national organization, so being able to connect with scouts from all over the country is pretty cool," Blundy said. "We enjoy exposing to a wide variety of backgrounds and something like this is pretty unique."


The significance of the airmail route is it being passed on to the younger generation, Grof said.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...