Celebrating 100 years of airmail

In front: Addison Pemberton’s 1929 Stearman 4D; rear: Jeff Hamilton’s Sterman 4E. PHOTOS PROVIDED/ OREGON AVIATION HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The inaugural flight of the United States Airmail service took place in the foggy wee hours of May 15, 1918 in an early Curtiss Jenny training aircraft, which flew a route from Washington DC to New York City.
Fifty years later, a 1929 Fleet 2 biplane hangared at Walker Army Airfield in Walker, Kansas – then the oldest registered aircraft in the state of Oregon – was chosen to fly a commemorative Airmail route on May 16, 1968 from Creswell to Eugene to celebrate 50 years of U.S. Airmail.
Clyde Blakely was the owner and pilot on that route and carried several hundred commemorative covers. This year, while it is no longer the oldest aircraft, the Oregon Aviation Historical Society (OAHS) once again celebrated with that fleet.
Current owner and pilot Ron Englund flew a 100th Anniversary commemorative route on May 16 from Creswell’s Hobby Field Airport to OAHS at the Cottage Grove State Airport.
On board, Englund carried over 400 commemorative covers being sent as far away as Honolulu.
The Stearman Junior Speedmail, CAM 8 commemorative flight also made their way through the Eugene Airport on Thursday, May 17 to celebrate this momentous occasion. The Junior Speedmails flew the Contract Airmail routes from the late 1920s up until World War II. These were specially designed open-cockpit biplanes with more than 450 horsepower and the capacity to carry several hundred pounds of mail several hundred miles at a time.
The CAM 8 commemorative tour was flown by three Stearman Speedmails, which began at Gillespie Field in San Diego on May 12, making all the CAM 8 route stops, visiting Eugene on Thursday and ending at Paine Field in Seattle on Friday, May 18.
The commemorative covers are still available at OAHS for $5, and can be mailed directly through early June. Contact the office for more information: [email protected] or 541-767-0244.
Information provided by Cassandra Barrong of the Oregon Aviation Historical Society.



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