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Army emergency flights of 1934  
 

 
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United States
16 Posts
Posted 07/10/2018   09:39 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add healthy to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I'm busy collecting covers of CAM and AM flights within Indiana. I thought it might be nice to fill in between the CAMs and the AMs with the emergency flights flown by the Army in 1934. That would only mean 6 covers: 2 each for Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Evansville. According to the Air Mail Catalog, they aren't expensive, but they don't seem to be popular items on eBay. Any thoughts on where I might look for some?

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Posted 07/10/2018   12:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What section of the AAMC are you looking at?

Mostly what I think you will see on eBay are "first day" type covers when the Army started flying the mail on Feb 19-20, 1934. The weather was horrible and the number of routes flown in the opening days of the Army's flights were reduced substantially from the normal volume of flights under the prior contract system. Most of the covers I've seen are postmarked at major hubs or destinations since this is where the initial operations staged from. Without some research, I couldn't say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if there few if any "first day" covers postmarked for Evansville or Terre Haute. Best bet would be Indianapolis, and that's not a given. You might have more luck finding a "first day" cover postmarked Chicago that was destined for one of these cities with a backstamp.

I have a bunch of these covers, but I have never gotten around to organizing them. But when I was acquiring them, I noted quite a few that were sent "General Delivery" to various locations. So they would have the originating postmark (say in your area Chicago) and then postmarks and dates where received.

I do not know of dealers specializing in stock of this kind of material. You might just want to do a daily search the US covers section of eBay for new listings with the search term "1934 Army" and keep your eyes open for what pops up.

Basil
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Posted 07/10/2018   12:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
eBay is still a very good bet as a source.

The challenge is looking for something made in small quantities, often not marked as a special flight. They disguise themselves as normal mail in collections and "fly under the radar" as not worth listing anywhere. They will end up in dealer dollar boxes as a seemingly common airmail cover. The AAMS values do not reflect the challenge of finding specific ones. Here is one incoming to Indiana:



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United States
16 Posts
Posted 07/10/2018   2:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add healthy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The Air Mail Catalog (5th ed., Vol. 1) lists the six covers I mentioned (p. 99-107), but the opening paragraph says the list contains all "possible first flights" by the Army during the Feb. 19-20, 1934 period. "Possible" is not a very accurate word...

Basil: Keep me in mind whenever you start organizing your covers.

John: You are correct. Without cachets, they will definitely fly under the radar
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Posted 07/10/2018   3:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
John,

I thought I recognized that addressee. Lieut. Gelb was a busy man.




Basil
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Posted 07/10/2018   9:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hoosierboy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Wikipedia has an interesting summary of early commercial aviation and air mail activity at: .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Mail_scandal.

The real interesting covers to find are those carried by plane during the emergency army air mail period. There is so much more to air mail than mint stamps and first covers.
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Posted 07/12/2018   12:56 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It depends on how you want to collect Army Emergency Flights of Indiana. If you only are interested in first flight covers originating from Indiana cities then yes, the number would be 6. But if you are interested in all possible combinations that include the first flights to those cities then the number would be one cover from each of those 6 plus an additional 21 covers from the other cities on those routes going to those 3 Indianapolis cities. The illustrated New York to Terre Haute cover is one example of one of the other cities on those routes that were sent to one of those three Indianapolis cities.

As has been already pointed out, these 1934 Army flights are not plentiful in that the time between the announcement of the ending of the CAM routes and the start of the Army replacement service was just 10 days which did not give collectors much time to prepare and send off covers to be flown. I do not know of any numbers of covers or weights of mail that were ever reported flown so the totals are a mystery. Also, as has been mentioned, there were no official cachets provided so these covers are not always easy to identify and likely there has been greater attrition of them over the years compared to first flights with colorful cachets. There are some privately applied cachets on some the Army flight covers but they are not typical and I do not know of any catalog that illustrates these privately applied cachets.

I think that the prices listed are low for these, but then the demand is also low and not many collectors go for them so the low values reflect this. I think the reason why they are not as collected as most other first flights is the lack of official cachets make them a bit dull looking, they are not considered to be CAM covers, they are from 1934 which is a bit late for those CAM collectors who may be interested in what temporarily replaced the CAMs, and there are not all that many different ones compared to first flights like CAMs, FAMs, Zeppelins, etc. so a collection of them would not be as extensive and interesting.

The best places to look for them are on eBay and also asking members of the American Air Mail Society. You would need to be a member of the AAMS to ask the members, either on their online Facebook discussion group or by placing a free want ad in the Airpost Journal (members get 2 free wanted or for sale ads per year in the Journal).
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Posted 07/12/2018   05:43 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Kimo,

I have a bit of anecdotal evidence on the volume of covers created for the start of the AACMO (as it was called, short for "Army Air Corps Mail Operation"). Hap Arnold was put in charge of the Western District staged out of Salt Lake City and assigned his aide Ira Eaker responsibility for the Salt Lake to Los Angeles--San Diego route. Eaker initially expected to handle the task with his squadron's P-12 pursuit aircraft, an aile and fast airplane, but not able to carry a very large load. After the opening day run from Salt Lake to Burbank, Eaker was expecting a load of 400 lbs of mail for the run to San DIego. Instead he had 1400 lbs. He called Arnold about the problem, explaining that the high volume was because of all the stamp collectors seeking to get first flight covers of the new Army mail service. Arnold told him to go over to March field and get a B-4 bomber. None of his pilots had ever flown a B-4 so Eaker ended up living in one for about a week. The P-12's were removed from AACMO on February 25 are largely replaced with O-38 observation aircraft borrowed from the National Reserve.

One more bit of evidence about the volume of mail typically carried on those first AACMO flights is suggested by the following "crash cover" from my collection:



-Basil
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Posted 07/13/2018   8:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, Basil. These are good clues and excellent sleuthing! Still, though, it is hard to extrapolate to other legs and other routes as some were more popular than others. Also, different routes had different aircraft with different carrying capacities, and even when the same aircraft were used, shorter hops would carry less fuel than longer legs of the routes and so shorter hops could carry more weight in mail by not filling their fuel tanks to the top. Still, I think that these clues are helpful in that they suggest there was a strong collector demand and at least in one case there was 378 pounds of mail which works out to about 15,000 covers on that one crashed aircraft. And it suggests that the numbers for all of the flights and legs are likely in that general order of magnitude rather than small numbers. That is a very large amount of mail for a first flight which supports the modest values listed in the American Air Mail Catalog listings.
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Edited by Kimo - 07/13/2018 8:13 pm
Valued Member
United States
16 Posts
Posted 07/15/2018   11:13 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add healthy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is a very interesting topic. I've only been collecting CAMs and AMs that depart from Indiana cities, so I'm only interested in similar covers from the Emergency Army flights. While I'm not holding my breath for any quick acquisitions, I am hopeful that something will turn up "sometime." After all, collecting doesn't seem to have an end point...
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Posted 07/15/2018   12:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
You forgot to add to your statement " . . . only collecting CAMs and AMs that depart from Indiana cities . . ." the words "for now". I have collected postal history for many years and I have found that I am not unusual among collectors who find their collecting areas usually experience "subject matter creep" over time. Collecting is an infectious condition and it tends to grow on you making it hard to keep with just your original limits.
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United States
130 Posts
Posted 07/15/2018   5:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hoosierboy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Kimo, Healthy, and all,

I have been chastise in the past on several occasions for referring to this hobby as an affliction. Yep, call it creep, especially if you look for Halloween items.

The enjoyment of the quest to acquire material and knowledge about it is why we all look for whatever it is we seek. What counts is while we are on this good side of the earth we enjoy the pastime. Hopefully our material will then be passed onto other stewards for safe keeping with information we gathered infecting future folks.

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Edited by hoosierboy - 07/15/2018 5:48 pm
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