The National Postal Museum will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first powered airmail flight starting today and extending through Saturday. Visit the NPM from 12 noon to 2pm today to be part of the anniversary festivities, including viewing the plane that made the momentous trip a reality.
Although it took pilot Fred Wiseman two days to travel the 15 miles from Petaluma to Santa Rosa California due to mechanical difficulties on February 17th and 18th, 1911, his total actual air time was twenty minutes. His delivery was a few letters, a couple newspapers and some groceries. Still, it was enough to make his flight that very important thing to airmail collectors and philatelists: a first.
Other airmail events at the NPM this weekend include a curator talk on experimental airmail, Friday at 12 noon, including an online webcast. Questions relating to the topic can be asked at the NPM's Facebook page and via Twitter.
Saturday is Centennial of Airmail Family Festival day, with hours from 11am to 3pm, where attendees can learn more about Wiseman, the Wright brothers and their plane and other bright lights in the history of airmail.
Also on Saturday from 2pm to 3pm there will be a presentation and discussion of the Wiseman flight as it relates to airmail and postal history. Those who can't make it to the NPM can watch it on a live webcast.
Meanwhile, out in California where the Wiseman flight took place, there will be a walk retracing the flight route (or "under the route" as Sonoma county historian Lee Torliatt amusingly points out) as part of the festivities for their famous flying native son.