This 16-cent issue was the first United States stamp designated for airmail purposes that had the words 'Air Mail' in its design. Originally scheduled to be issued in black, when the design was approved on August 6, 1923, it was decided to print it in deep blue. The Post Office Department first issued the stamp in Washington, D.C., on August 17, 1923.
The stamp's central design is the official insignia of the Air Mail Service-a circular center with spread wings. The meaningful design and rich color of this stamp make it one of the most popular single-color airmail stamps ever produced. C.A. Huston designed the stamp, which was engraved by H. Dawson and E. M. Hall.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing used four plate numbers (14828-14831) for this design. The plate numbers appear eight times on each four hundred subject sheet adjacent to the fifth stamp from each outside corner, so that each pane of one hundred stamps has two plate number blocks of six. The Post Office Department issued 5,309,275 of the 16-cent stamps.
This stamp was good for payment of airmail postage on an item of one ounce or less across two zones of the Transcontinental Air Mail Route (westbound, New York-Cheyenne, Chicago-San Francisco; eastbound, San Francisco-Chicago, Cheyenne-New York) or a double-weight letter over one zone.