Hydro-aeroplane flight postal card
Pilot Alfred J. Engel made several flights, known as the "Experimental Hydro-Plane Mail Service," in his Curtiss hydroplane between July 4 and September 7, 1914, traveling to four cities on Chautauqua Lake. The Post Office Department issued a blanket order permitting exchange of postcards only by air as often as practicable. It had authorized the service as Route No. 607,004.
Although the POD had authorized mail flights to begin on May 30, local news reports noted that flights began on July 4. No mail prior to this date is known. Even though the service was authorized for postcards only, at least one cover is known. It is believed that Engel carried the cover as a favor to the addressee, collector Harry Truby.
Officials applied two types of cachets. Type 1 cachet was used only on July 4; Type 2 was applied on all other days. Cards exist without the cachet.
No record was kept of the actual dates the service took place. Listed here are only the dates where mail is known. Other dates are possible.
" July 4 - Chautauqua. Postmarked on July 6 due to post office closing on July 4 and 5
" July 16, 17, 26, 30 - Bemus Point
" July 19, 24, 27, 30; August 9, 13; September 3 - Celoron
" August 12, 17 - Mayville
" July 25, 27; August 8; September 7 - Chautauqua
" A set of six souvenir cards were sold by Engel to raise money for the service. These are numbered 210-215. Though originally planned to be required for the airmail service, this was never enforced.
Avid collector H. A. Truby, a lawyer residing in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, received this postal card with the bold, magenta-colored cachet, "HYDRO-AEROPLANE ROUTE." The postmark's wavy flag killer canceled the 1-cent McKinley indicia. Officials in Chautauqua, New York, postmarked the card on July 6, 1914, at 4:40 p.m.