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AIRMAIL 100 CENTENNIAL FLIGHTS PROJECT TO MAKE HISTORIC DONATIONS TO AMERICAN PHILATELIC SOCIETY

02-22-2021 08:52 AM CET | Associations & Organizations

Press release from: AirMail100 Centennial Flights

Airmail100 project organizer Bill Moore (left) with volunteer pilots David Ott and Al Dyczek.

Airmail100 project organizer Bill Moore (left) with volunteer pilots David Ott and Al Dyczek.

OMAHA, NE — February 22, 2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of the flight that “saved” the US Airmail. In a daring overnight flight through snow and fog, Omaha-based airmail pilot Jack Knight flew from North Platte, Nebraska to Chicago, Illinois, fulfilling a pledge by then Assistant Postmaster Otto Praeger to fly the mail at night, shortening the delivery time to mere hours instead of days.

It is on the anniversary of that historic flight that the Airmail 100 Centennial Flights project will turnover to the American Philatelic Society and American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania a USPS mail sack that 14 volunteer pilots carried from Long Island, NY to San Francisco Bay.

Flying in relay last September 2020, they safely retraced the exact same 2560-mile route flown a century ago. Despite mechanical gremlins, rolling thunderstorms, a freakish late summer snowstorm over the Rockies, and visibility-killing California wildfires, the all-volunteer effort turned over the sack of several thousand commemorative postcards and letters to San Francisco Postmaster Douglas Smith exactly 100 years to the day, hour, and location as in 1920.

“We chose the February 2021 date because of Jack Knight’s history-making flight that is recognized as having “saved” the air mail service, for which Congress was poised to drastically cut funding in the light of its high operating costs and loss of life,” explains project organizer Bill Moore. “Overnight, Jack became a national hero and his bravery and skill, as well as no small amount of luck, made it virtually impossible for Congress to defund the service. America would become a global leader in aviation in no small part because of the airmail service and the dedication and courage of US Airmail pilots like Jack Knight, nearly three dozen of whom lost their lives.”

The official handover of the volunteer pilot-autographed mail sack, as well as at least one of the special cancellation stamps made for the project, and the pilot’s log book that accompanied the mail, is scheduled to take place at 11AM local time in Bellefonte. Representing AirMail100 will be Stephen Tucker who helped organize reception events in the Bay Area and oversaw the efforts to have all the participating pilots sign the bag.

“We are honored and pleased that the directors of the American Philatelic Society and American Philatelic Research Library have agreed to include these items in their extensive airmail collection. We hope that someday these items also will come to be as cherished as those currently in the collection. It is our small way of expressing our admiration for what that past generation accomplished in seeing the mail through the storm and dark of night.”

For additional information on the American Philatelic Society contact:

Kenneth Martin, Director
American Philatelic Society
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Phone: 814-933-3803
Fax: 814-933-6128

Airmail 100 Centennial Flights
1915 Southview Drive
Papillion, NE 68046

AirMai100 Centennial Flights is a volunteer group who retraced the original 1920 flight route of the US Post Office's transcontinental airmail from Long Island, NY to San Francisco, CA.

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