Telegram from Praeger on September 5, 1918
Incoming electric signal from Western Union in Washington, D.C., decoded and printed a message of fifty-four-words onto a blank telegram form to B B Lipsner (Capt. Benjamin B. Lipsner) Care Postmaster Chicago ILL from Praeger Second Assistant (Otto Praeger, second assistant postmaster general).
Prior to commencing the pathfinder survey flights for the New York–Chicago route, Praeger contacted postmasters at each city along the route requesting each pilot’s progress. At 4:30 he received a wire from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, postmaster Paul O. Brosius informing him that pilot Edward V “Turk” Gardner was grounded in Lock Haven because of a gas line problem. Gardner and pilot Max Miller both encountered atrocious weather on September 5. After departing Belmont Park, Long Island, New York, they encountered violent rainstorms. En route to Lock Haven, Gardner and mechanic Edward C Radel made three unscheduled landings for repairs on the Liberty 400 engine in their Curtiss R4-1M. In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, eight miles short of Lock Haven, they set down to check their location. At 2:16 p.m. they landed in Lock Haven and set about repairing their leaking gas line. The lengthy process entailed an overnight stay. Praeger was concerned that mechanical difficulties would prevent Gardner from flying on to Cleveland, Ohio, and then Chicago.
Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger scheduled the dramatic pathfinder survey flight from New York to Chicago for September 5, 1918. Two pilots flew from Belmont Park, Long Island, New York, via Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Cleveland and Bryan, Ohio, to Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, returning in reverse. Once maintaining a regular schedule, the route would extend airmail beyond the New York–Philadelphia-Washington, D.C., route established on May 15, 1918.
Two pilots made the flight—“Max” Miller and Edward V “Turk” Gardner. Miller flew the new Standard JR-1B biplane, and Gardner flew a two-place Curtiss R4-1M, accompanied by mechanic Edward C. Radel, former mechanic for Katherine Stinson, the first woman to fly mail in the U.S.