Air mail celebration set for May 19

Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the nation’s first scheduled air mail delivery.

100 years later: Fred Moore spoke about the first airplane mail carrier that landed on May 15, 1918. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Historian Fred Moore last week gave a preview of the Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History’s centennial celebration of the nation’s first regularly scheduled air mail delivery on Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Haldeman Avenue and Red Lion Road.

Moore spoke on May 2 at Northeast Philadelphia History Network’s monthly meeting, held at Pennepack Baptist Church.

The first airplane mail carrier landed on Wednesday, May 15, 1918, at Bustleton Field, with U.S. Army Lt. Torrey Webb bringing mail from New York’s Belmont Park.

The same day. Army Lt. Paul Culver departed Bustleton Field to deliver mail to New York.

Lt. James Edgerton was also at Bustleton Field, flying mail from Philadelphia and New York to Washington, D.C.

Moore’s slideshow outlined how communication has evolved, starting with the dove who delivered a freshly plucked olive leaf to Noah, proving to him that the waters had subsided from the earth.

According to Moore, Bustleton Field was on a 150-acre farm near Haldeman and Red Lion. It was open from 1918–21, closing when air travel improved to the point that there was no need for a stop between New York and Washington.

On May 19, a historical marker will be unveiled at noon.

The day will also include a performance by the Big Easy Brass Band, a stamp cancellation, commemorative T-shirt sales, aviation displays and exhibits, mail trivia, Morse Code telegram transmitting and appearances by Boy Scouts and the Northeast Philadelphia Radio Control Club.

For more information, visit www.1stairmail.com

The Northeast Philadelphia History Network will meet again on Wednesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. at Growden Mansion, 5408 Neshaminy Valley Road, in Bensalem. ••