Airmail arrives in Greenville in 1930, kicking off a new era of aviation
These days, we take for granted the ease of sending a message anywhere in the world with the click of a button. But just a century ago, a message from New York to San Francisco took 33 hours and 20 minutes–and that was a major breakthrough made possible by the creation of airmail.
November is National Aviation Month, celebrating the ways aviation has transformed the country, and airmail was among the first and most popular innovations. The Wright brothers made their first sustained flight in 1903, and just 18 years later, in 1921, the first transcontinental airmail effort took place.
Greenville Municipal Airport received its first airmail flight in 1930, drawing a rapt crowd of more than 15,000. According to the Greenville County Historical Society, pilots touched down and picked up 29,700 pieces of mail–so much that it took three planes to carry the load. In what was apparently a trend at the time, pilot Dick Merrill arrived with Princess Doreen, his lion mascot.
As of 1977, airmail ceased to be a separate mail class. First Class postage was already being transported by air, and at 13 cents, it was 3 cents cheaper than airmail. In just under 50 years, another innovation became obsolete.
Did You Know?
320.4 billion items are sent via post each year, as e-commerce has boosted the number of parcels delivered daily.
The US Postal Service doesn’t have postal planes, but contracts for the mail to hitch a ride on airlines like United and American.