Arago: Documents


Flight report by pilot James Edgerton


James C. Edgerton was one of the original U.S. Army pilots who flew the first airmail routes from May 15 to August 9, 1918. Pilots were required to submit reports for each flight. This report marks Edgerton’s flight from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1918, which was the first day of regularly scheduled airmail service.

The flight report indicates that Edgerton flew Curtiss JN-4H airplane number 38274. This airplane was one of six that the army provided to the Post Office Department for these flights. The report notes that Edgerton left Philadelphia at 1:14 that afternoon and arrived in Washington, D.C., at 2:50 p.m. The report also indicates that Edgerton found the airplane’s balance slightly nose-heavy and that it tended to turn to the left. He noted that the water temperature averaged 70 degrees Fahrenheit and that the landing gear, tires, and skid all operated “OK.”

The flight report's back page was reserved for additional information, including explanations of forced landings or flight delays. Edgerton used it to record his average altitude during the flight as 6,500 feet and that the weather was hazy.

A sure and steady pilot, Edgerton made fifty-two airmail trips for a total of 7,155 miles with only a single forced landing. When the Post Office Department assumed administration of airmail service, officials hired Edgerton away from the army and appointed him 'Chief of Flying'. Edgerton’s experience as a pilot enabled him to serve as a buffer between pilots and Department bureaucrats.

May 15, 1918
1st Air Mail Report / Pilot's Daily Report / . . . [recto]; Remarks: Altitude average 6500 feet, hazy. / . . . [verso]
paper; ink
15 x 8.5 cm (5 7/8 x 3 3/8 in.)
Museum ID:

  • Lipsner Airmail Collection
  • Lipsner Airmail Collection
Additional Records
  • Certificate of appointment for postmaster
  • Certificate of appointment for postmaster
  • Letter of appointment for Benjamin Lipsner
  • Max Miller's letter of support for Benjamin Lipsner
  • Franklin and Foxcroft rate chart
  • Flight report by pilot James Edgerton
  • List of the first airmail mechanics and pilots
  • Note from pilot Max Miller to Benjamin Lipsner
  • Note from pilot Max Miller to Benjamin Lipsner
  • Memo from B. Lipsner to Army Adjutant General
  • US Army Quartermaster's Department letter
  • Letter of retirement for John T. Jackson

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