The Airmail Legacy

The official end of domestic U.S. Airmail occurred on May 1, 1977, when the special airmail class was eradicated. It would not be until 2007 that international airmail would be treated as a special class. Although airmail no longer officially exists, its legacy is still with us today. Millions of pieces of mail are still delivered by aircraft each day, and now air transport is responsible for carrying everything from diapers to food.

As in the early days of airmail, the U.S. Post Office still contracts with private airlines to deliver letters

Perhaps the biggest legacy of U.S. Airmail is that it helped advance aerospace technology at a rapid pace. In pursuit of the U.S. Post Office contracts, manufactures attempted to build aircraft that could fly longer, faster and carry more cargo. 

The Ryan M-1, advertised as "The Plane the Pays a Profit" is an example of an aircraft designed to carry mail.  It was successful and was so reliable that Lindbergh used it as the basis of the Spirit of St. Louis.

But an machine is only as good as the people who used  it and we salute the brave men and women who risked their lives to fly the airmail in the early days of aviation.  Many of these pilots can be seen in this album which we have digitized and put on Flickr.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter

Get Social with SDASM

Icon for Facebook Icon for Twitter Icon for Instagram Icon for Pinterest Icon for Kayak