First air mail flight

February 18, 1911 – This day in aviation history

First official air mail flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, California by Fred Wiseman

Forced by a mechanical glitch to land in Denman Flat overnight, the historic mail delivery spanned two days. But it was just one day ahead of an English pilot who flew mail across the Hoogli River in India that same week, month and year.

Wiseman didn’t set out to be a “first” of anything, and in fact, was unaware of his record until Paul Garber of the Smithsonian got curious and did the research. Wiseman’s primary mission was to make the machines he worked on work well, starting with bicycles and then automobiles.


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