United States Postal Service celebrates 100th Anniversary of air mail service

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the 100th anniversary of the beginning of regular airmail service with a Forever stamp. This stamp celebrates the courage of the pioneering airmail carriers and the foresight of those who fostered the new service and made it a success.

The first-day-of-issue ceremony for the blue United States Air Mail Forever stamp, pictured above, took place today, May 1, at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

 Air Mail Forever stamp

A second stamp, red and pictured left, will be issued in College Park, MD on Aug.11, 2018.   The stamp will commemorate United States Air Mail as an official function of the Post Office Department.

Both stamps, printed in the intaglio print method — a design transferred to paper from an engraved plate — depict the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The biplane was also featured on the 24-cent stamps originally issued in 1918 to commemorate the beginning of regularly scheduled airmail service.

The stamp design evokes that earlier period. The stamp designer and typographer was Dan Gretta; Greg Breeding was the art director.

Background
On May 15, 1918, in the midst of World War I, a small group of Army pilots delivered mail along a route that linked Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City — initiating the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service. The blue stamp, released May 1, 2018, commemorated the pioneering spirit of the brave pilots who first flew the mail in the early years of aviation.

The United States Post Office Department, the predecessor to the U.S. Postal Service, took charge of U.S. Air Mail service later that summer, operating it from Aug. 12, 1918, through Sept. 1, 1927. Airmail delivery, daily except Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred the growth of the nation’s aviation industry. The red stamp commemorated this milestone.

Both stamps, printed in the intaglio print method — a design transferred to paper from an engraved plate — depict the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The biplane was also featured on the stamps originally issued in 1918 to commemorate the beginning of regularly scheduled airmail service. The stamp design evokes that earlier period.

For airmail service to succeed in the early days of flight, the Post Office had to develop profitable routes, such as between New York and Chicago, and establish the infrastructure for safely making night flights. It set up lighted airfields and erected hundreds of airmail guide beacons between New York and San Francisco so that by 1924 regularly scheduled, transcontinental flying was possible, day and night.

Airmail delivery, daily except Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred the growth of the nation’s aviation industry.

The United States Air Mail stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp that will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one ounce price.

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