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Pioneer Air Posts of the Empire

Blazing the Air Mail Trail
by A T Waters
Pioneer Air Posts of the Empire - Blazing the Air Mail Trail

Pioneer Air Posts of the Empire  - download pdf file of the booklet
This 24 page booklet tells the story of the Empire's Air Mails from the early beginnings to 1934. It was dedicated to the memory of  Lord Northcliffe who did a much in advancing the cause of British Aviation

"Long before the invention of the aeroplane experiments were carried out from time to time in different parts of England and elsewhere in dropping mails from free balloons. Owing to the uncertainty of control and direction, however, the value of the nonnavigable gas-filled spheres was really negligible, and such attempts must therefore be regarded in the light of "stunts," more than anything else.
The earliest recorded British Balloon Post took place at the time of the celebrations of King Edward VII's Coronation, on August 9th, 1902, when three packets of souvenir post cards were dropped from a balloon sent up from Beckenham, Kent, in charge of the famous aeronaut, M. Gaudron...."

The 1911 Flight
"The service was well organised, and cards and envelopes, printed with a special design, were placed on sale at most of the leading stores in London, as well as at the London Aerodrome (Hendon). The cards were sold (ready stamped) at 6½d., and the envelopes, including a sheet of notepaper, at Is. Id. The idea caught on, and several hundred thousand cards and envelopes had been sold by September 9th when the first flight took place.

The pilots engaged in the service were Gustav Hamel, and Messrs. Driver, Hubert and Greswell, members of the Grahame-White Aviation School.

Only one bag of mail, carried by Hamel, was carried on the first day, although a large proportion of the total mail was postmarked September 9th. Hubert crashed on the second day, and was rather severely hurt. This caused a slight contretemps, as Hamel refused to carry on until the organisers agreed to make an award to the injured pilot.

by A T Waters, published  as a supplemet to "Stamp Collecting" on 5 May 1934.

The booklet is now available for sale on Delcampe

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