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West Potomac Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Air Mail
 
Air Mail Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, April 3, 2009
1. Air Mail Marker
 
Inscription. The world's first airplane mail to be operated as a continuously scheduled public service started from this field May 15, 1918.

The route connected Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Curtiss JN 4-H airplanes with a capacity of 150 pounds of mail flew the 230 miles in about three hours.

The service was inaugurated by the Post Office Department in cooperation with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps of the U. S. Army. On August 12, 1918, the service was taken over in its entirety by the Post Office Department.
 
Erected 1958 by The Aero Club of Washington on the fortieth anniversary, May 15, 1958.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Postal Mail and Philately marker series.
 
Location. 38° 52.885′ N, 77° 2.607′ W. Marker is in West Potomac Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Ohio Drive SW near East Basin Drive, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Gift of Friendship (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Defender of Liberty (approx. ¼ mile away); Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Cuban Friendship Urn (approx. 0.3 miles away); Japanese Pagoda (approx. 0.4 miles away but has been reported missing); Thomas Jefferson (approx. 0.4 miles away); District of Columbia War Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away).
 
Air Mail Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, April 3, 2009
2. Air Mail Marker
 

 
More about this marker. It is between the road and the paved walkway at the river’s edge. It faces the walkway; all you see from the road is the back of the boulder.
 
Regarding Air Mail. The airfield, now West Potomac Park, was known then as the Washington Polo Grounds. The route was Washington Polo Grounds to Belmont Park in New York City with an intermediary stop at Bustleton Field in Philadelphia. The original Air Mail letter rate was 24 cents per ounce. First class mail then cost 2 cents for the first ounce.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Reluctant Pioneer and Air Mail’s Origin. Article by Nancy Allison Wright. “Washington’s Potomac Park Polo field was rimmed with trees 30 to 60 feet tall. Within the field stood a covered grandstand and one lone tree. [Reuben H.] Fleet could do nothing about the grandstand, but he ordered the tree, which had already caused one crash, to be removed by May 14. The Park Department replied that it would take three months to receive permission to cut down the offending tree. Fleet then told the local mechanics to chop down the tree six inches below the ground, cover the hole with cinders, stomp hard on it, then drag the tree outside the park.” (Submitted on April 3, 2009.) 

2. The Airmail Takes Wing. Condensed from a narrative by C. V. Glines. “A phone call came to [Henry H.] Arnold from [George L.]Boyle about an hour after he had left the Polo Grounds. Lost and nearly out of gas, he had landed in a farmer’s field at Waldorf MD, 20 miles southeast of his takeoff point. The plane had flipped over on its back and the prop was splintered, but he was unhurt. Instead of following the railroad tracks northward, Boyle had followed a branch line out of the rail yard that took him southeast instead of north—an unreliable compass was no help. He had become not only the first official, scheduled-airmail pilot to depart with mail from Washington but, unhappily, had also become the first airmail pilot to get lost and the first to have an accident. His mail was unceremoniously trucked back to Washington. ” (Submitted on April 3, 2009.) 
 
Former Airfield, Now West Potomac Park Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, April 3, 2009
3. Former Airfield, Now West Potomac Park
 
 
Dusk at West Potomac Park Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, April 3, 2009
4. Dusk at West Potomac Park
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on April 3, 2009, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,722 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 3, 2009, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.
 
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