Pioneers of Aviation
This stamp was issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s historic first powered flight in 1903. This issue is the first in a series of international airmail stamps that honors American aviation pioneers and significant aviation developments.
U.S. #C92 was issued with #C91 a se-tenant pair. On the Wright Brother’s first successful airplane flight, the plane and pilot weighed 750 pounds. The wings were wooden frames strung together with piano wire and spanned forty feet, six inches. Orville piloted the twelve horsepower, four- cylinder gasoline engine biplane on the first attempt – staying aloft twelve seconds and traveling 120 feet. But at noon on the same day, brother Wilbur set the day’s record by flying 852 feet in 59 seconds.
This stamp honors this civil engineer and aviation pioneer. Chanute’s major contribution to aviation occurred in 1896, when he designed his hang-glider. It became a standard for future glider design.
Although he is remembered in the world of aviation because of his influence on aeronautics, Chanute initially specialized as an engineer in the building of railroads and railroad bridges.
Wiley Post is saluted on this stamp and is remembered as the first man to complete a solo flight around the world. He made his famous journey in his small plane, the “Winnie Mae.”
This is the second stamp of a pair issued se-tenant and honoring Wiley Post. Not only did he make the first solo flight around the world, he is hailed for his scientific research, record-making flights, and design of a pressure suit and helmet for high-altitude flights.
This issue remembers an aviation pioneer and the first American woman to fly solo. After her early flights, she joined a group of pilots on the daredevil circuit and earned the title “The Tomboy of the Air.” Scott eventually became a special consultant for the United States Air Force.
Born in Hammondsport, New York, Glen Curtiss’s interest in bicycle racing progressed to motorcycles and eventually flight. Curtiss (1878-1930) built his first airplane engine in 1907. After demonstrating that planes can land and take off from ships, Curtiss began making planes for the U.S. Navy. He manufactured thousands of planes during World War I. In 1919, a Navy-Curtiss flying boat became the first plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
U.S. #C113 honors aviation pioneer Alfred Verville, who helped Glenn Curtiss design the famed Curtiss Jenny and the Curtiss twin-engined seaplane. In the early 1920s, Alfred Verville and Lawrence Sperry designed and produced three aircraft. The most famous was the Verville-Sperry Classic Trophy in 1924, which could fly at a record of 216 miles per hour. Nearly a half century later, that plane was recognized by a panel of experts as one of the 12 most significant aircraft of all time.
This second of two stamps honoring aviation pioneers features Lawrence and Elmer Sperry. Elmer was awarded more than 400 patents. He revolutionized flying with such devices as the gyro compass and speed-direction indicators. Lawrence helped to develop and test such aviation innovations as the automatic pilot, retractable landing gear, and the first guided missile in the form of an aerial torpedo. Elmer died in 1930, and Lawrence drowned in 1924, after crashing on a flight over the English Channel.
Although it doesn’t honor an individual, the USPS includes #C115 in its list of stamps belonging to the Pioneers of Aviation stamps. The stamp commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the China Clipper’s first trans-Pacific airmail flight in 1935. At that time, seaplanes had a non-stop range of less than 800 miles. Remarkably, every leg of the pioneer journey was completed on schedule. The China Clipper ultimately flew 3 million miles during a ten-year career. It was destroyed in a crash during a night landing attempt at Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Aviation pioneer Samuel P. Langley is pictured on this stamp with his Aerodrome No. 5 – the first American heavier-than-air machine to make a free flight of any significant length.
U.S. # C119 features Igor Sikorsky, a native of Czarist Russia, who was a leading aircraft designer. Driven out of Russia by the Revolution, he became an American citizen. Sikorsky built the first practical single-rotor helicopter. The craft pictured on the stamp was successfully flown in 1940.
This stamp features Harriet Quimby (1875-1912), one of the few women honored on Airmail stamps. A journalist and drama critic, she was the first American woman to receive a pilot’s license, and the first woman to fly the English Channel solo.
William T. Piper was the designer of the popular Piper Cub
plane, and called the “Henry Ford of aviation” for developing and promoting low-cost aircraft.
This 60-cent rate stamp is a tribute to World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker, a professional race car diver before the war, was the leading ace of the war, shooting down a total of 22 planes and four balloons. Co-owner of the Indianapolis Speedway from 1927 to 1945, Rickenbacker also served as president of Eastern Airlines from 1938 to 1959. After resigning as president, he went on to serve as the company’s chairman of the board until 1963.
At the time of her death in 1980, Jacqueline Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, in the world. The first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound, she also founded the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II, and was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1934, she established her own cosmetic company. A successful businesswoman, she was designated Woman of the Year in Business in 1963.
Billy Mitchell joined the list of distinguished people honored as part of the Pioneers of Aviation series, which began in 1978. Mitchell is considered the father of the U.S. Army Air Force, the aviation branch of the U.S. Army that became the U.S. Air Force in 1946. The stamp also pictures Mitchell’s personal SPAD XVI biplane. The aviator’s plane is on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
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