Airmail
Overview
 
Airmail is mail
Mail
Mail, or post, is a system for transporting letters and other tangible objects: written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes, and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world. Anything sent through the postal system is called mail or post.In principle, a postal service...

 that is transported by aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail
Surface mail
Surface mail, also known as sea mail, is mail that is transported by land and sea , rather than by air, as in airmail...

, and usually costs more to send. Airmail may be the only option for sending mail to some destinations, such as overseas, if the mail cannot wait the time it would take to arrive by ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

, sometimes weeks.
Specific instances of a letter being delivered by air long predate the introduction of Airmail as a regularly scheduled service available to the general public.

Although homing pigeon
Homing pigeon
The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon derived from the Rock Pigeon selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate...

s had long been used to send messages (an activity known as pigeon mail), the first mail to be carried by an air vehicle was on January 7, 1785, on a hot air balloon
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

 flight from Dover to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 near Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

.
Encyclopedia
Airmail is mail
Mail
Mail, or post, is a system for transporting letters and other tangible objects: written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes, and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world. Anything sent through the postal system is called mail or post.In principle, a postal service...

 that is transported by aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail
Surface mail
Surface mail, also known as sea mail, is mail that is transported by land and sea , rather than by air, as in airmail...

, and usually costs more to send. Airmail may be the only option for sending mail to some destinations, such as overseas, if the mail cannot wait the time it would take to arrive by ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

, sometimes weeks.

History

Specific instances of a letter being delivered by air long predate the introduction of Airmail as a regularly scheduled service available to the general public.

Although homing pigeon
Homing pigeon
The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon derived from the Rock Pigeon selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate...

s had long been used to send messages (an activity known as pigeon mail), the first mail to be carried by an air vehicle was on January 7, 1785, on a hot air balloon
Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in a hot air...

 flight from Dover to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 near Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. It was carried by flown by Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard , aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard, was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning....

 and John Jeffries
John Jeffries
John Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and a military surgeon with the British Army in Nova Scotia and New York during the American Revolution. Born in Boston, Jeffries graduated from Harvard College and obtained his medical degree at the University of Aberdeen...

. The letter was written by an American Loyalist
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 William Franklin
William Franklin
William Franklin was an American soldier and colonial administrator. He served as the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey. Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American War of Independence, despite his father Benjamin Franklin's role as one of the most prominent Patriots during the...

 to his son William Temple Franklin
William Temple Franklin
William Temple Franklin was a British-born American diplomat and real estate speculator. He is best known for his involvement with the American diplomatic mission in France during the American Revolutionary War serving as secretary to his grandfather Benjamin Franklin that agreed the...

 who was serving in a diplomatic role in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 with his grandfather Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

.

During the first aerial flight in North America by balloon on January 9, 1793, from Philadelphia to Deptford, New Jersey
Deptford Township, New Jersey
Deptford Township is a township in Gloucester County, New Jersey, in the United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 30,561....

, Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard
Jean-Pierre Blanchard , aka Jean Pierre François Blanchard, was a French inventor, most remembered as a pioneer in aviation and ballooning....

 carried a personal letter from George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 to be delivered to the owner of whatever property Blanchard happened to land on, making the flight the first delivery of air mail in the United States.

The first official air mail delivery in the United States took place on August 17, 1859, when John Wise
John Wise (balloonist)
John Wise was a pioneer in the field of ballooning. He made over 400 flights during his lifetime and was responsible for several innovations in balloon design...

 piloted a balloon starting in Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette is a city in and the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States, northwest of Indianapolis. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 67,140. West Lafayette, on the other side of the Wabash River, is home to Purdue University, which has a large impact on...

 with a destination of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Weather issues forced him to land in Crawfordsville, Indiana
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Crawfordsville is a city in Union Township, Montgomery County, Indiana, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 15,915. The city is the county seat of Montgomery County...

 and the mail reached its final destination via train. In 1959 the U.S. Postal Service issued a 7 cent stamp commemorating the event.

Balloons also carried mail out of Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 during the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (1870), drifting over the heads of the Germans
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 besieging those cities. Balloon mail
Balloon mail
Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail carrying the name of the sender by means of an unguided hydrogen or helium filled balloon. Since the balloon is not controllable, the delivery of a balloon mail is left to good fortune; often the balloon and postcard are lost...

 was also carried on an 1877 flight in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

.

The introduction of the airplane
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 in 1903 generated immediate interest in using them for mail transport. The first "quasi-official" airmail flight was conducted by Fred Wiseman, who carried three letters between Petaluma and Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, California, United States. The 2010 census reported a population of 167,815. Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's Wine Country and fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont and 26th...

, California on February 17, 1911. The world's second airmail flight came the next day, when French pilot Henri Pequet carried 6,500 letters a distance of 13 km (8.1 mi) from Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

, to Naini
Naini
Naini is a satellite locality/township of the city of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India in the south-east.-History:Naini was infamous for its prison, Naini Jail, where many freedom fighters—including Pt...

, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was a province of India under the British Raj, which existed from 1902 to 1947; the official name was shortened by the Government of India Act 1935 to United Provinces, by which the province had been commonly known, and by which name it was also a province of...

, India, then part of the British Empire. The letters bore an official frank "First Aerial Post, U.P. Exhibition, Allahabad. 1911,"

The world's first scheduled airmail post service took place in the United Kingdom between the London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 suburb of Hendon
Hendon
Hendon is a London suburb situated northwest of Charing Cross.-History:Hendon was historically a civil parish in the county of Middlesex. The manor is described in Domesday , but the name, 'Hendun' meaning 'at the highest hill', is earlier...

, North London
North London
North London is the northern part of London, England. It is an imprecise description and the area it covers is defined differently for a range of purposes. Common to these definitions is that it includes districts located north of the River Thames and is used in comparison with South...

, and Windsor
Windsor, Berkshire
Windsor is an affluent suburban town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family....

, Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, on September 9, 1911.

In the aftermath of the First World War the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 (Postal Section) and the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 pioneered a scheduled airmail service between Folkestone, Kent and Cologne, Germany
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

. The service operated between December 1918 to the Summer of 1919, its purpose was to provide troops of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 stationed in Germany with a fast mail service (see more at British Forces Post Office
British Forces Post Office
The British Forces Post Office provides a postal service to HM Forces, separate from that provided by Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. BFPO addresses are used for the delivery of mail in the UK and around the world...

). Throughout the 1920s the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 continued to develop air routes through the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

The first regularly scheduled airmail service in the United States was inaugurated on May 15, 1918, over a route between Washington, DC, and New York City with an intermediate stop in Philadelphia, PA.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S. Congress used legislation (such as the Kelly Act and the McNary-Watres Act), and the U.S. Postal Service under Walter Folger Brown
Walter Folger Brown
Walter Folger Brown was Postmaster General of the United States from 1929 through 1933 under Herbert Hoover. He was best known for his involvement in the Air Mail scandal...

 used air mail contract regulations, as tools to foster private-sector aviation companies (manufacturers, airlines, and conglomerates thereof) in order to encourage the development of a civil aviation
Civil aviation
Civil aviation is one of two major categories of flying, representing all non-military aviation, both private and commercial. Most of the countries in the world are members of the International Civil Aviation Organization and work together to establish common standards and recommended practices...

 system that would provide passenger airline service and cargo transport by air as widespread facets of American life, on a profitable basis—an ambitious notion at the time for a nationwide infrastructure that mostly did not yet exist. These events devolved into ethically dubious backroom deals between the government and corporations just in time for the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 to create a populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 backlash against such "fat cat" behavior. The resulting Air Mail scandal
Air Mail Scandal
The Air Mail scandal, also known as the Air Mail fiasco, is the name that the American press gave to the political scandal resulting from a congressional investigation of a 1930 meeting , between Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown and the executives of the top airlines, and to the disastrous...

 led to the Air Mail Act of 1934, which mandated the separation of air carriers from their equipment manufacturers, breaking up companies such as the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation
United Aircraft and Transport Corporation
The United Aircraft and Transport Corporation was formed in 1929, when William Boeing of the Boeing firms teamed up with Frederick Rentschler of Pratt & Whitney to form a large, amalgamated firm, uniting business interests in all aspects of aviation—a combination of aircraft engine and airframe...

.

The first airmail service established officially by an airline occurred in Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, South America, in the 19th of October 1920. Scadta
SCADTA
The Colombian-German Air Transport Society , or SCADTA, was the world's second airline, and the first airline of the American continent, operating from 1919 until World War II. After the war, SCADTA merged with Colombian regional carrier Colombian Air Service , or SACO. Together, SCADTA and SACO...

, the first airline of the country, flew landing river by river delivering mail in its destinations.

Australia's first airmail contract was awarded to Norman (later Sir) Brearley's Western Australian Airlines (WAA). The first airmail was carried between Geraldton and Derby in Western Australia on December 5, 1921. A memorial plaque to that effect is located at the Derby Airport. WAA commenced operations including Australia's first scheduled airline service eleven (11) months before Qantas got off the ground. [The State Reference Library - the Battye Library Perth Western Australia holds these factual records]. Distances being what they are, all international mail from Australia (other than heavier parcels) goes by air. International stamps are distinguished from internal mail stamps by a blue patch. International stamps do not pay GST
Goods and Services Tax (Australia)
The GST is a broad sales tax of 10% on most goods and services transactions in Australia. It is a value added tax, not a sales tax, in that it is refunded to all parties in the chain of production other than the final consumer....

 of 10% unlike internal stamps which do.

The 1928 book So Disdained
So Disdained
So Disdained is the second published novel by British author, Nevil Shute. It was first published in 1928 by Cassell & Co, then republished in 1951 by William Heinemann and issued in paperback by Pan Books in 1966....

 by Nevil Shute
Nevil Shute
Nevil Shute Norway was a popular British-Australian novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer. He used his full name in his engineering career, and 'Nevil Shute' as his pen name, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels.-...

 - a novel based on this author's deep interest in and thorough knowledge of aviation - includes a monologue by a veteran pilot, preserving the atmosphere of these pioneering times: "We used to fly on the Paris route, from Hounslow
Hounslow Heath Aerodrome
Hounslow Heath Aerodrome was a grass airfield, operational 1914-1920. It was situated in the London borough of Hounslow, and in 1919 was the location from which the first scheduled daily international commercial air services took place.-1909-1914:...

 to Le Bourget
Le Bourget
Le Bourget is a commune in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.A very small part of Le Bourget airport lies on the territory of the commune of Le Bourget, which nonetheless gave its name to the airport. Most of the airport lies on the territory of the...

 and get through as best as you could. Later we moved on to Croydon
Croydon
Croydon is a town in South London, England, located within the London Borough of Croydon to which it gives its name. It is situated south of Charing Cross...

. (...) We carried the much advertised Air Mails. That meant the machines had to fly whether there were passengers to be carried or not. It was left to the discretion of the pilot whether or not the flight should be cancelled in bad weather; the pilots were dead keen on flying in the most impossible conditions. Sanderson got killed this way at Douinville. And all he had in the machine was a couple of picture postcards from trippers in Paris, sent to their families as a curiosity. That was the Air Mail. No passengers or anything - just the mail".

In the same year when this was published, the famous German pilot Gunther Plüschow
Gunther Plüschow
Gunther Plüschow was a German aviator, aerial explorer and author from Munich, Bavaria. His feats include the only escape by a German prisoner of war in either World War from Britain back to Germany; he was the first man to explore and film Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia from the air...

 carried out the first air mail from Puntas Arenas to Ushuaia
Ushuaia
Ushuaia may refer to the following:*Ushuaia, a city in Argentina.**Ushuaia Department, an administrative division**Ushuaia River**Ushuaia International Airport**Colegio Nacional de Ushuaia, National School of Ushuaia....

, in the southern part of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

. Later Plüschow was killed in an air crash, his memory still honoured in Argentina.

Since stamp collecting
Stamp collecting
Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with the number of collectors in the United States alone estimated to be over 20 million.- Collecting :...

 was already a well-developed hobby by this time, collectors followed developments in airmail service closely, and went to some trouble to find out about the first flight
First Flight
First Flight may refer to:* "First Flight" * First Flight , an animated short film* First Flight Airport, in North Carolina, United States* First Flight Handicap, a horse race...

s between various destinations, and to get letters onto them. The authorities often used special cachet
Cachet
In philately, a cachet is a printed or stamped design or inscription, other than a cancellation or pre-printed postage, on an envelope, postcard, or postal card to commemorate a postal or philatelic event. There are official and private cachets. They commemorate everything from the first flight...

s on the covers
Cover (philately)
In philately, the term cover pertains to the outside of an envelope or package with an address, typically with postage stamps that have been cancelled and is a term generally used among stamp and postal history collectors. The term does not include the contents of the letter or package, although...

, and in many cases the pilot
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 would sign them as well.

The first stamps designated specifically for airmail were issued by Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1917, and used on experimental flights; they were produced by overprint
Overprint
An overprint is an additional layer of text or graphics added to the face of a postage stamp or banknote after it has been printed. Post offices most often use overprints for internal administrative purposes such as accounting but they are also employed in public mail...

ing special delivery
Special delivery (postal service)
Special Delivery is a postal service for urgent postal packets. Its meaning varies among postal services and is different and separate from Express mail delivery service offered by many postal administrations...

 stamps. Austria also overprinted stamps for airmail in March 1918, soon followed by the first definitive stamp
Definitive stamp
A definitive stamp is a postage stamp, that is part of a regular issue of a country's stamps available for sale by the postal service for an extended period of time...

 for airmail, issued by the United States in May 1918.

The dirigible
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

s of the 1920s and 1930s also carried airmail, known as dirigible mail. The German zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

s were especially visible in this role, and many countries issued special stamps for use on zeppelin mail
Zeppelin mail
Zeppelin mail was mail carried on zeppelins, the German airships that saw civilian use from 1908 to 1939. Almost every zeppelin flight carried mail, sometimes in large quantities; the covers usually received special postmarks, and a number of nations issued postage stamps specifically intended for...

.

The Universal Postal Union
Universal Postal Union
The Universal Postal Union is an international organization that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration , the Postal Operations Council and the...

 adopted comprehensive rules for airmail at its 1929 Postal Union Congress
Postal Union Congress
The Postal Union Congress is the main international meeting of the Universal Postal Union, used to discuss various issues affecting international postal services, such as legislation, the political climate, and other strategic issues. The first congress was held in Bern Switzerland in 1874, and was...

 in London.

Air Mail within the United States was effectively ended as a distinct service on October 10, 1975 when all domestic intercity First Class mails began to be transported by air whenever practical and/or expeditious at the normal First Class rate. Domestic Air Mail as a separate class of service (and its rate structure) was formally eliminated by the successor to the Post Office Department, the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 (USPS) on May 1, 1977.

In June 2006 the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 formally trademarked Air Mail (two words with capital first letters) along with Pony Express
Pony Express
The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierra from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, from April 3, 1860 to October 1861...

. On May 14, 2007, Air Mail was incorporated into the classification First Class Mail International.

Air-speeded

A postal service may sometimes opt to transport some regular mail by air, perhaps because other transportation is unavailable. It is usually impossible to know this by examining an envelope, and such items are not considered "airmail." Generally, airmail would take a guaranteed and scheduled flight and arrive first, while air-speeded mail would wait for a non-guaranteed and merely available flight and would arrive later than normal airmail.

Names

A letter sent via airmail may be called an aerogramme, aerogram, air letter or simply airmail letter. However, aerogramme and aerogram may also refer to a specific kind of airmail letter which is its own envelope; see aerogram
Aerogram
An Aerogram, Aérogramme or Air Letter is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via airmail, in which the letter and envelope are one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at...

.

Some forms of airletter, such as aerogram
Aerogram
An Aerogram, Aérogramme or Air Letter is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via airmail, in which the letter and envelope are one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at...

, may forbid enclosure of other material so as to keep the weight down.

The choice to send a letter by air is indicated either by a handwritten note on the envelope
Envelope
An envelope is a common packaging item, usually made of thin flat material. It is designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter or card....

, by the use of special labels called airmail etiquette
Airmail etiquette
An airmail etiquette, often shortened to just etiquette, is a label used to indicate that a letter is to be sent by airmail. The term is from French étiquette "label, sticker" , from which also English etiquette "rules of behavior".- Use :Because the etiquettes are just instructions to postal...

s, or by the use of specially-marked envelopes. Special airmail stamp
Airmail stamp
An airmail stamp is a postage stamp intended to pay either an airmail fee that is charged in addition to the surface rate, or the full airmail rate, for a piece of mail to be transported by air....

s may also be available, or required; the rules vary in different countries.

Airmail stickers are coloured blue, with the words "air mail" in French, the home language. These are used to save having to write "air mail" by hand.

The study of airmail is known as aerophilately
Aerophilately
Aerophilately is the branch of philately that specializes in the study of airmail. Philatelists have observed the development of mail transport by air from its beginning, and all aspects of airmail service have been extensively studied and documented by specialists.- Scope :The scope of...

.

Media

See also

  • Airmail etiquette
    Airmail etiquette
    An airmail etiquette, often shortened to just etiquette, is a label used to indicate that a letter is to be sent by airmail. The term is from French étiquette "label, sticker" , from which also English etiquette "rules of behavior".- Use :Because the etiquettes are just instructions to postal...

  • Airmails of the United States
    Airmails of the United States
    Airmails of the United States or U.S. Air Mail relates to the servicing of flown mails by the U.S. postal system within the United States, its possessions, and/or territories, marked as "Via Air Mail" , appropriately franked, and afforded any then existing class or sub-class of U.S...

  • Air Mail scandal
    Air Mail Scandal
    The Air Mail scandal, also known as the Air Mail fiasco, is the name that the American press gave to the political scandal resulting from a congressional investigation of a 1930 meeting , between Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown and the executives of the top airlines, and to the disastrous...

  • Airmail stamps of Denmark
    Airmail stamps of Denmark
    Denmark issued ten definitive airmail stamps between 1925 and 1934 in two distinct series. The 1st series, commonly called The Plow and Airplane was first issued in June 1925. These stamps were designed by Danish artist Axel Peder Jensen . The 2nd series was issued on June 9, 1934 and depicted an...

  • L-mail
  • Mail plane
  • Nellie Brimberry
    Nellie Brimberry
    Nell Butner Brimberry of Albany, Georgia, became the first Postmistress of a major United States Post Office in 1910.In 1911 she inaugurated the first airmail flight in the U.S. and struck the first airmail stamp...

  • Surface mail
    Surface mail
    Surface mail, also known as sea mail, is mail that is transported by land and sea , rather than by air, as in airmail...

  • V-mail
    V-mail
    V-mail, short for Victory Mail, is a hybrid mail process used during the Second World War in America as the primary and secure method to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad...



Sources

  • Richard McP. Cabeen, Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting (Collectors Club, 1979), pp. 207–221
  • Schiff, Stacy. Benjamin Franklin and the Birth of America. Bloomsbury, 2006.

External links

  • UKweekly.com article on early airmail service
  • British Postal Museum & Archive Information Sheet - Airmail
  • The Flying Mail's Big Debt to War: America again takes front rank in the air with machines of mighty power, Popular Science
    Popular Science
    Popular Science is an American monthly magazine founded in 1872 carrying articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the ASME awards for its journalistic excellence in both 2003 and 2004...

    monthly, February 1919, page 78, Scanned by Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=7igDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA78
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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