First flight cover
Flown by Max Miller and Edward V. Gardner, this pathfinder trip laid much of the groundwork for the future eastern zone of the transcontinental air mail route. The flights began on September 5, 1918. Miller flew a Standard JR-1B aircraft, and Gardner flew a Curtiss R4-1M. Edward Radel, mechanic, accompanied Gardner. Both planes reportedly made several unscheduled landings for information, service, or repairs. Although each aircraft experienced mechanical problems, Miller's problems did not begin until after he left Lock Haven, Pennsylvania; Gardner had problems before getting airborne from Belmont Park, Long Island, New York. Miller arrived in Chicago during the evening of September 6; Gardner and Radel arrived the following morning.
The air mail rate with special delivery service was sixteen cents for the first ounce. Many New York covers received a four-line oval cachet / cancel dated September 4 or 5. A few items had a circular, magenta cancellation similar to that used on May 15. It is estimated that the amount of mail carried was as follows: Miller — 150 pounds (3,000 pieces); Gardner - 213.5 pounds (4,270 pieces). If the item is backstamped "Chicago Sept. 6," Miller carried it; if backstamped "Chicago Sept. 7," Gardner carried it.
This piece of mail, addressed to E. R. Jacobs, Chicago, bears the oval magenta cancel, struck twice, canceling a 24-cent Jenny airmail stamp. The postmark reads, "N.Y. CHICAGO / AERO MAIL / 9.5.1918 / FIRST TRIP." Its backstamp reads, "Chicago Sept. 6," and so Miller carried it.