First Transcontinental Airmail Route -Cheyenne Wyoming
N 41° 09.162 W 104° 49.140
13T E 515187 N 4555724
Quick Description: This marker is outside Cheyenne airport and describes the First Transcontinental Airmail Route.
Location: Wyoming, United States
Date Posted: 6/8/2011 9:58:33 AM
Waymark Code: WMBP6C
The US post Office Department authorized the first experimental mail flight in 1911 at an aviation meet on Long Island, New York . By 1912 it had authorized 52 flights at fairs, carnivals and air meets in more than 25 states. From 1912 to 1916 they urged Congress to appropriate money to launch airmail service and 1916, $50,000 was authorized but no aircraft were received due to the absence of suitable planes. In 1918 Congress appropriated $100,000 to establish experimental airmail routes and the Post Office encouraged the Army Signal Corps to lend its planes and pilots to start the service. They argued that this cross-country flying would provide invaluable experience to the student pilots and the Secretary of War agreed. In the fall of 1918 the Post Office purchased six specially built mail planes and hired civilian pilots. Early airplanes had no radios, instruments or other navigational aids and pilots flew by dead reckoning. Few facilities existed and pilots were often forced to land due to bad weather; however fatalities were rare.
General William “Billy” Mitchell a staunch advocate of aviation, put together a U.S. Air service transcontinental air race in October 1919. Although a number of aviators had flown across the United States since Cal Rodgers first accomplished the feat in 1911, there was no organized route and landing areas were few and far between, especially in the western U.S. The route used was later adopted by the Post Office as the most practical. Of the original 48 aircraft that would depart from New York and the 15 that departed San Francisco, only 33 would complete a one-way crossing and only eight would make the full round trip. Seven lives were lost.
Although at first the routes were short (e.g new York to Washington) the Post Office envisioned a transcontinental airmail route from New York to San Francisco to better its time on long hauls and to lure more people to use airmail. The first leg of the continental route was from New York to Cleveland in 1918; The Cleveland to Chicago leg was established in 1919; Chicago to Omaha in 1920; and the last segment Omaha to San Francisco was opened on September 8, 1920. This last leg included stops in North Platte, Cheyenne, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Salt Lake City, Elko and Reno.
Marker Name: First Transcontinental Airmail Route
Marker Type: City
Group Responsible for Placement: City Of Cheyenne
Addtional Information: Not listed
Date Dedicated: Not listed
Marker Number: Not listed
Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed
Please post a photo of you OR your GPS at the marker location. Also if you know of any additional links not already mentioned about this bit of Wyoming history please include that in your log.