Airplane mail cover
Experimental flights between New York and Chicago took place in December 1918, most troubled with mechanical problems or accidents. The air mail rate was six cents per ounce, the new rate having gone into effect on December 15. Ordinary postal cancellations from the various cities on the route were used.
Pilot Leon D. Smith left New York on December 18 with 226 pounds of mail. When forced down in State College, Pennsylvania, Smith turned the mail over for dispatch by train.
The two planes leaving Cleveland on December 18 crashed, although one eventually made it to Chicago.
Pilot M. Ebersole took-off during the afternoon of December 18 from Grant Park Station in Chicago, but he cracked a propeller while landing at Ashburn Flying Field. Officials forwarded the mail by train.
On December 19, two aircraft left New York for Chicago, but neither reached Cleveland by sunset. Attempts made the following day failed, and the two mail planes returned to Belmont Park, Long Island. On December 21, one flight left New York and reached Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but the pilot lost his way, and so the flight never reached Cleveland. Service was then suspended indefinitely.
The cover shown here, sent by dealer Eugene Klein, addressed to collector E. R. Jacobs, Chicago, and carried by Leon D. Smith on his December 18 flight from New York, bears a black, circular postmark reading, "NEW YORK AIR MAIL SERVICE / DEC 18 / 3 AM / 1918." New York covers were marked with the regular cancel, similar to the May 15 type, with the wording "First Trip" and "Wash. N.Y. Phila." omitted.