Arago: Exhibits


The Pilots

In order to transfer the operations of airmail to the Post Office Department, the POD would need pilots to fly the mail. Lipsner hired four pilots, one for each leg of the route.

Airmail pilot Max Miller 
Photographer: Unknown
Date created: c. 1919
Max Miller was employed as an airmail pilot for the Post Office Department from August 12, 1918 to September 1, 1920, when he died in a mail airplane crash. The Norwegian born pilot had been interested in aeronautics from his youth and was the first pilot hired by the Post Office Department to fly the mail in 1918. He was married to Daisy Thomas, an assistant in he Second Assistant Postmaster General’s office. 
On September 1, 1920, Miller left Hazelhurst, Long Island, NY, air field for Cleveland in a Junkers-Larsen aircraft with mechanic Gustav Reierson and 600 pounds of mail. Two hours later, the airplane was seen inexplicably only 20 miles away. It was flying low and the motor was cutting out and backfiring. Flames could be seen from the front of the airplane and Reierson was tossing out mailbags. The flames engulfed the front of the airplane, the aircraft nosed over and dove into the ground. The gas tanks exploded blowing the wings off. Both men were killed in the explosion. 
National Postal Museum, Benjamin Lipsner Collection

Max Miller

Airmail pilot Eddie Gardner 
Photographer: Unknown
Date created: August 1918
Airmail pilot Eddie Gardner sits on the engine of one of the Post Office Department’s Curtiss Jenny (JN-4H) mail airplanes. The men posed in front of the airplane include another airmail pilot, Robert Shank (far left) and airmail mechanic Eddie Radell (second from left).
Benjamin Lipsner Photographic Collection

Eddie Gardner (on the engine cowling)

Photograph of airmail pilot Robert Shank

Robert Shank

Cropped version of original first pilots excluding Langley

Maurice Newton (in the middle of the photograph)