By:- F. Aleem Sundal
The sending of letters by airmail is not by any means a modern innovation. As far back as 2,000 years ago, the Egyptians and Romans were using carrier pigeons for the transmission of official messages.
Sultan Noureddin Mahmood, who died in 1174 A.D., had set up a successful pigeon post in
There were pigeon posts in existence during the Dutch war in the 16Th century. Besieged
In more modern times,
Far better known to the philatelists are the pigeon gram services, which operated in
Airmail got a tremendous boost with the introduction of the pioneer airships of Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin of
The first attempt to carry mail by aeroplane was made in
A successful regular airmail service, the first in the world, was set up in
Although Graf Zeppelin’s airship had carried mail across the Atlantic, the story of mail transfers by air across the
First away did H.G. Hawker pilot a plane and K.M. Grieves on April 18, Some 1,100 miles away, engine trouble forced them into the sea. Pilots and mail were rescued by a steamer and landed in
On April 19, another attempt was made to carry a small packet of about 60 letters. The plane crashed while taking off.
Pilots Alcock and Brown who flew the first successful flight across the
Soon after, the airmail services were regulated and many countries issued special airmail stamps, which were used only on items sent by air. Australia’s first air stamps are connected with the great trailblazing flight by the two brothers Rose and Keith Smith, who left England in a Vickers-Vimy plane on November 12, 1919 and arrived at Melbourne on February 26, 1920. They carried mail which, upon arrival at
But a regular air link between
During 1925-27, Alan J. Cobham was engaged in survey flight in the
By now airmail service had graduated from biplanes to jet airliners. Yet there were many areas in the world where such efficient services were still not available. After
The helicopter service started form
Pigeons, balloons, air ships, biplanes and jets alone have not been the carriers of airmail.
Philatelists have also recorded mail sent by rockets, missiles and spacecraft. So far stamps are prepared only for rocket mail, but whenever missile or space or space machines send mail, special covers are issued for the purpose or special hatchets are applied to the items sent. Missile post is employed mostly for military uses and space mail is sent to astronauts already orbiting in space. A few covers, however, were sent to the Moon on the Apollo missions, but to whom?