Photograph of airmail pilot Max Miller
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 the Second Assistant Postmaster General’s office.
On September 1, 1920, Miller left Hazelhurst, Long Island, NY air field for Cleveland, OH 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