Airmail 2018

Delivering America: Airmail to Email

100 years ago, the thought of flying mail and packages, not to mention people, was simply an idea on paper and in someone’s mind! Airplanes, one of the hottest new-fangled innovations of the early 20th century, captivated the public. Innovators and forward thinking public officials such as Alexander Graham Bell, President Woodrow Wilson, Postmaster General Albert Burleson and Second Postmaster General Otto Praeger, to name a few, saw the potential of harnessing a new innovation, like airpower, to positively impact the future. 

On August 12, 1918, the first United States Postal Service airmail flight took off from College Park Airport utilizing civilian aircraft and civilian pilots marking the beginning of a new chapter in mail, aviation, transportation and communication. The grand airmail experiment ultimately led to the birth of America’s commercial aviation industry and drove the development of navigation and radio communication improvements as well as safety.

The College Park Aviation Museum’s new exhibit Delivering America: Airmail to Email pilots you through the fascinating story of airmail. Through unseen photographs, artifacts and interactives, the exhibit offers you the chance to learn about the sacrifices people made, including their lives, as well as the experiments carried out to make regular mail service, shipping and travel a reality. 

As you walk through the exhibit, learn the importance of weight and balance in flight through our new weighing activity, discover the connection between airmail and America’s commercial aviation industry, explore various aviation careers and dress the part! The exhibit also highlights unseen photographs of the airfield and every day operations on the airfield. As well as aviation artifacts from airmail era to the beginnings of commercial aviation!

Delivering America: Airmail to Email runs through December 2019. Stay tuned for potential special short-term artifact additions and new airmail programs for adults and children.   

Airmail Centennial Celebration Overview

Between August 10 and 12th we were joined by over 1,000 visitors, history buffs, philatelists, and aviation aficionados who made our Airmail Centennial weekend a hit!

Some of our highlights included:

  • Guests dancing the night away in 1920’s and 30’s glamour at An Airmail Affair exhibit preview and reception
  • Learning about the importance of Airmail and the United Stated Postal Service's contributions to aviation and innovation
  • Witnessing a historical stamp unveiling of the US Airmail Forever Stamp
  • Getting hands on with STEAM exhibits from our local partners including the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, M-NCPPC Park Rangers, DuVal High School’s Aerospace Engineering Department, and more!
  • Concocting the perfect pancake toppings
  • Bidding 'farewell' to a historic Stearman airplane

Thank you to everyone who joined us! And, for those of you who missed the exciting weekend, our exhibit Delivering America: Airmail to Email will be on display through August 2019!

Our friends at WUSA9 ran a great story on the weekend and our volunteer Photographer, Michael G. Stewart captured the entire weekend on camera!      

The fun doesn't stop there!

Additional events, educational programming, and historic aircraft displays include:

  • Shared programming with Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  • Creation of an on-line learning lab for teachers with National Postal Museum
  • Three new Airmail Guided tours for specific audiences: elementary school, middle school to adult tours, and specialized tours for our visitors with disabilities. 
  • Aviation Career Days – Details and dates to come
  • College Park Day Fall 2018
  • Fly & Drive Spring – 2019
  • The Great Airmail Race – 2019
  • Airmail Field Day – August/September 2019

Click on the photos below to read our Curator's blog post on the National Postal Museum website and Facebook! 

Airmail, Through the Lens of Charles Townley Chapman

Charles Townley Chapman- 1917

Pilot Spotlight: Robert Shank

Robert Shank