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When was the first postal airmail delivery?

Updated on February 18, 2011

Sonoma County's Flying Machine 1911

Frank Wiseman and his aircraft in Cloverdale, Feb. 1911, a few weeks after the first ever airmail delivery service!
Frank Wiseman and his aircraft in Cloverdale, Feb. 1911, a few weeks after the first ever airmail delivery service! | Source
Frank is airborne over San Bruno, Ca.
Frank is airborne over San Bruno, Ca. | Source

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.

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    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 6 years ago

      I am an SSU grad also, but I was really surprised at this. Very cool that Santa Rosa was THE place north of SF (still kinda is)

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Whu would have thought?... My son went to Sonoma University and I know well both of those cities that have little to show for. Glad to hear they acctually do; interesting hub, thank you, Sir.

    • schoolmarm profile image

      schoolmarm 6 years ago from Florida

      Very interesting...I love reading about things like this! Thanks