I’m biking east along Interstate 80 and today I’m in DuBois, Pennsylvania.
The article that got my attention was how USPS experimented with no-landing airmail pick up & drop off back in 1940s. The idea was to have airplanes drop off one mail bag and snatch up another by using a hook, and somebody from inside the airplane will pull in the hook to secure the bag.
In this way they can make a lot more stops along the way.
It appears that this experiment didn’t really fly; It only lasted for 1 year and got discontinued.
Back when I was still in Nebraska I wrote about Pony Express. I didn’t think about it but there was a time period in which mail was the killer app for new mode of transportation. It makes sense. It tends to be compact, there will be steady demand, and you can command higher price for faster delivery. Once upon a time, USPS was cool and cutting edge!
As a data point that illustrates just how cutting edge it was, in the first 10 years of the history of airmail (1918-1927), 34 pilots died (source).
I thought about one time my friend took me as he flew his airplane around the bay area. Small airplanes are different from commercial airplanes in part because you are close enough to the ground that you feel both linked to the ground but distinctively above the lives on the ground.
So I can totally see the lure of a mail pilot job. You get to be in the sky every day, and when you die, it’ll be quick. What more can a man ask for?