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Two-day airmail service

Two-day airmail service

May 1, 1929: Pilot C.N. “Jimmie” James climbs into plane for first east-bound transcontinental night airmail flight from Vail Field in Montebello.

This photo accompanied a Los Angeles Times article the next morning, reporting:

The first east-bound night air-mail plane of the new coast-to-coast service roared away for the East last night from Vail Field at 7 o’clock with Jimmie Jones, veteran pilot of Western Air Express at the stick. New Yorkers are scheduled to receive letters contained in the 591-pound load of mail tomorrow morning, this saving a complete business day over the daylight air-mail run.

Today at 5:30 a.m. the first plane load of mail on the westbound trip is expected to arrive at the Western Air Express terminal at Vail Field….

Four new Boeings have been purchased by Western Air Express to rush the mail through the night on the 600-mile Los Angeles-to-Salt Lake leg of the national airmail hook-up. The ships are capable of 150 miles an hour and have a cruising speed of 125 miles an hour. Each plane is powered with a Pratt & Whitney motor of 525 horsepower and carries the latest equipment for night flying….

If the night planes stick to schedule the mail which left here at 7 p.m. yesterday arrived at Salt Lake at 1:45 a.m. today, left at 4 a.m. and will arrive in Chicago at 6 o’clock tonight. Two hours later it is scheduled to leave for New York and arrive there at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow, early enough for delivery on the second day after the local takeoff.

Post office officials state that airmail letters and packages received at the local Arcade station by 6 p.m. will make the daily 7 p.m. take-off.

Another brief story in the May 2, 1929, Los Angeles Times reported similar flights beginning May 1 from Oakland to Salt Lake, allowing the merger of airmail onto the 4 a.m. flight to Chicago.

Vail Field, and a later smaller version, Vail Airport, closed in the early 1950s. Western Air Express later became Western Airlines, ceasing to exist following its 1987 merger with Delta Air Lines. The Arcade post office is currently at 506 S Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles.

1 Comment

  1. May 30, 2013, 7:23 am

    http://npm.si.edu/airmail/airmail/coast/airmail_c… just a few years off.

    By: nancy

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