On September 8, 1920, the first flight carrying Airmail from Hazelhurst Field, New York to Concord, California, successfully made its way across the country.
100 years later, the flight path will be retraced by volunteer pilots, to call attention to this significant event at the crossroads of aviation and philately.
The group "Airmail 100 Centennial Flights Project" has scheduled a reenactment of the 2,560 mile route, from September 8 to 11.
The Airmail 100 website has a number of details regarding the various stops along the way. Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the home of the American Philatelic Society was one of the airports in the original flight path and included on the schedule.
Here are some photos of Airmail 100 from its first two stops:
Pilot Christopher Freeze (L) and Steve Reinhard Immediate Past President of APS and Treasurer of the American Air Mail Society at the flight's origin of Farmingdale, NY. The Airmail for this flight was onboard a Cessna airplane.
An original Airmail bi-plane arrives at the Bellefonte, PA airport to recreate the original landing
Another view of the Pitcairn bi-plane after landing at the Bellefonte, PA airport. This plane was once owned by actor Steve McQueen. The current owner is Joe Hardy, founder of 84 Lumber.
APS life member and philatelic journalist Ken Lawrence speaks to those gathered about the history of Airmail and the flights in and out of Bellefonte, PA
PA State Senator Jake Corman (L) adds Bellefonte Airmail to the mail sack held by Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson (R)
Closeup of Corman and Wilson securing the mail sack.
Issues of The American Philatelist have focused on Airmail and philately over the years.
The May 2018 issue, provided below, includes the article “The ‘Suicide Club’ and ‘Hell’s Stretch’,” by Kitty Wunderly, which earned her the Barbara Mueller Award for the year’s best article. It begins on page 446.
Ms. Wunderly has published a book titled "Bellefonte and the Early Air Mail 1918–1927," which is available for sale in the APS Publications store.
Philatelic author Ken Lawrence has also researched and published articles in The American Philatelist about Airmail. His most recent article, "Revisiting the two December 18, 1918, Westbound Airmail Flights from Bellefonte" is available on this website.
Bellefonte Airmail Cover, 1928