The United States Postal Service debuted a new Forever stamp Tuesday honoring a century of airmail service.
A first-day-of-issue ceremony for the blue US Air Mail Forever stamp took place Tuesday at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. The blue stamp commemorates the brave pilots who flew the mail in the early days of aviation. A second stamp, featuring the same design as the blue stamp but in red, will be released on Aug. 11 and commemorates Air Mail becoming an official function of the Post Office Department.
Both stamps are printed in the intaglio print method and feature a Curtiss JN-4H biplane, the type of plane typically used to carry mail between the first air routes linking Washington, Philadelphia and New York City. The design incorporates the year of the first flights, 1918, into a bold-faced United States Air Mail banner.
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“The stamp we’re here to celebrate is a beautiful reminder of the imprint of United States Air Mail on today’s world,” said U.S. Postal Service Vice President of Supply Management Susan Brownell, who dedicated the stamps.
Brownell went on to credit the USPS with helping establish the modern aviation industry by pioneering air service just 15 years after the Wright brothers' first flight.
She said early USPS pilots faced many challenges and "innovated and experimented daily with tactics and landing procedures."
For airmail service to succeed in the early days of flight, the Post Office had to develop profitable routes, such as between New York and Chicago, and establish the infrastructure for safely making night flights. It set up lighted airfields and erected hundreds of airmail guide beacons between New York and San Francisco so that by 1924 regularly scheduled, transcontinental flying was possible, day and night. Airmail delivery, daily except Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred the growth of the nation’s aviation industry.
The Air Mail stamp is being issued by the USPS as a Forever stamp, meaning it will always be equal in value to that of the current First-Class Mail one ounce stamp.
Online: USPS Air Mail Forever stamp