On Friday, May 18th, the Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) is inviting you to celebrate the Centenary of the first domestic US Airmail flight.
To celebrate, three Stearman Speedmail biplanes, which were designed specifically with mail delivery in mind, will be retracing the West Coasts’ airmail route, known as the Contract Air Mail 8 or the CAM 8. While not the first flight to carry mail per se, it was the first under the new class of service established by the US Postal Service.
These vintage biplanes will be piloted by Addison Pemberton and Jeff Hamilton of Spokane, as well as Ben Scott of Reno. The pilots, who own and maintain the crafts themselves, will be sworn in as official Airmail pilots and at each of the stops will assist local Postal employees in ‘cancelling’ the stamps before they go out for delivery. (Cancelling refers to the mark across the stamps that precludes them from re-use.)
Addison Pemberton, whom John T. Sessions of the Historic Flight Foundation identified as the leader of this effort, wanted to make sure that Paine Field was included to remain as true to the original CAM 8 route as possible. “We just get it,” says Sessions. “We routinely celebrate key points and anniversaries in aviation history.”
“The establishment of airmail service marks the first steps toward the founding of commercial aviation and airline service in America,” Pemberton is quoted as saying in the HFF press release. “The fact that Congress specifically asked that service begin while the nation was mobilized to fight the first World War shows that the potential and importance of aviation was recognized even in those early days.”
The route begins in Gillespie Field in San Diego on May 13th, and culminates at Paine Field on May 15th, where you are invited to join other guests in at a catered dinner. The dinner is officially from 6pm-9pm, but for those interested in watching the three planes touch down should show up by five. The dinner itself will be catered by The Red Cork Bistro, will feature live period music, and you can expect to meet all three pilots. John T Sessions, the founder of Historic Flight Foundation, assured this reporter that you can expect them “in flying goggles, leathers and pantaloons. They are hams of the first order!”
If you’re interested in attending, please click here for tickets: https://cam8.brownpapertickets.com/
However, if you’re unable to attend but would like to track the flight path of the trio, start here: https://www.cam8in2018.com/track-flight