Photograph of airmail loaded for pathfinding transcontinental flight
General Superintendent of the Airmail Service, L.B. Lent, helps to load mail into a Junkers Larson (JL-6) aircraft on July 29, 1920. This airplane was one of three flown on a transcontinental pathfinding flight for the US Post Office Department. The plane, piloted by Harold "Slim" Lewis, carried some mail, as well as Superintendent Lent, World War I aviation ace Eddie Rickenbacker, and Lieutenant Colonel H.H. Hartney of the US Air Service. The flights helped officials determine the best route of the upcoming transcontinental airmail route between New York, New York, and San Francisco, California. The second and third Junkers aircraft were piloted by Mons Emil and Bert Acosta. Lewis was one of the Post Office Department's most colorful pilots. He was remembered by fellow airmail pilot Dean Smith as "someone who could drink more and fly better than anyone else I knew." Lewis joined Boeing Air Transport after leaving the Post Office in 1927.
National Postal Museum, Curatorial Photographic Collection