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Airmail Service Begins - May 15, 1918

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The nation's first regularly scheduled airmail service began on May 15, 1918. Planes carried mail between Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York City. The Post Office Department worked with the U.S. Army to run the service, using army pilots and planes for the first three months of operations. In August 1918 the Post Office took complete control of the service and ran it until 1927. Routes grew to include service between New York and Chicago, then a transcontinental route between New York and San Francisco.  The Department added beacon towers and lights on aircraft and landing fields to permit night flights.

By 1927 when the Post Office had turned all of the airmail service over to private contractors, a system was in place that set the stage for the successful growth of the nation's commercial aviation system.

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