- Education and Science»
- History & Archaeology
When was the first postal airmail delivery?
Sonoma County's Flying Machine 1911
1911 between Petaluma & Santa Rosa, California
Who would have thought that the first US airmail postal delivery, and maybe in the world, occurred in the Northbay, that is, between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, California.
The year was 1911. The month, February. The mail, a single letter. The flight plan was from Petaluma to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosan, Frank Wiseman, a local, ran a bicycle shop at 317 Mendocino Ave, loved all things mechanical. Fascinated by the car and aeroplane, first became an auto mechanic and then raced them in 1909 in the local "grand prix" race. The race was a grueling 52 mile course spanning from Healdsburg, Dry Creek Valley, Geyserville. That race had 14 cars racing, only six returned during the one hour race. Frank went on to other auto races in Ohio and it was there where he met the Wright Brothers and their "aeroplane", the Kitty Hawk.
Frank was bit by the concept that man could fly and managed to secure $10K to fund that would create the second airplane in California and the first in Northern California! Frank and friends built their airplane, "Dinky", in a barn near Fulton, just north of Santa Rosa. It was a four cylinder frame. The first flight was from Kenilworth Park in Petaluma. The flight lifted 15 feet off the ground and flew 200 yards before Frank dove into fence. Frank's second plane flew in 1910. It had the newer V8 engine. It would be flown in numerous local air races.
By 1911, Frank, was famous for flying. To honor him, friends wanted him to fly up to his hometown, Santa Rosa, and not even thinking about what he carried, Frank carried a letter from one Postmaster to another. Frank died in 1961 and while he was a resident of Santa Rosa, he also had a small spread off Shiloh Road (where there is now a shopping center).
It was the first US postal air service.