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History Matters: Book Recommendations for July 2024

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Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future, with book recommendations

ARLINGTON, Va. - s4story -- by Ed Lengel for David Bruce Smith's Grateful American Book Prize

First Transcontinental Air Mail Service

Coast-to-coast road travel had proven to be difficult; often, it took months to get from point to point. Railways connected major cities and towns, but mail delivery to remote places was usually slow, dicey, and unpredictable. The Post Office had tried to institute a service in 1918, but there were still too many areas heavily dependent on weather, grass, or dirt airfields, mechanical issues, poor navigation equipment, and pilot competence.

Early experiments to bolster and broaden business had fallen through, and night flying was dangerous. In 1921, Congress was close to eliminating it. Finally, on February 22nd of that year, air mail was given a jump start when four biplanes lifted off carrying sacks of mail from San Francisco heading east, and to New York traveling west.

The pilots intended to operate in relays–day, and night–but severe weather shut two down two of the routes, and a third plane crashed. Commander Jack Knight, however, took to the skies after hours for airfields that were illuminated by bonfires–or not at all. Eventually, he was nicknamed the "hero who saved airmail," and Congress re-instated its funding.

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In the summer of 1924, with a regular series of beacons secured to facilitate nocturnal departures, regular transcontinental air mail service was linked—at last—across the continent.

For more information. the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Barry Rosenberg's and Catherine Macaulay's, Mavericks of the Sky: The First Daring Pilots of the U.S. Air Mail (2006).

History Matters is a feature courtesy of the Grateful American Book Prize.

The Grateful American Book Prize is awarded each year to high quality, 7th to 9th grade level, historical fiction, and non-fiction, about events and personalities that have shaped the United States since its founding. For more book recommendations and information about the annual award visit https://gratefulamericanbookprize.org/.

Grateful American Book Prize

Source: Grateful American Book Prize
Filed Under: Literature

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