Issue Date: 09/09/2011
Issue Name: Centenary of Aerial Post Pair of Covers
Producer: Buckingham Covers
On September 9th 2011 we celebrated the centenary of the first scheduled UK aerial post, when we recreated history with a flight from Hendon Aerodrome to Windsor. This special pair of covers, feature all ten stamps from our stamp sheet, and were carried on board. They are available signed by Captain Douglas Fraser Reid.
The First United Kingdom Coronation Aerial Post
The first UK Aerial Post was organised as part of the celebrations for the Coronation of George V. Because the legal charge was a halfpenny for inland postcards or a penny for inland letters, the first Aerial Post was limited to specially printed envelopes and cards at sixpence halfpenny for a card and a shilling and a penny for an envelope. The stationery was widely available and special pillar boxes were provided at all the stores, depots and at Hendon Aerodrome. The Grahame White Aviation Co. was contracted for the flights and the pilots engaged were Clement Gresswell, Gustav Hamel, E.F. Driver and G. Hubert. Four machines were prepared, two Forman bi-planes and two Blériot monoplanes.
Hendon to Windsor
On Saturday 9th September 1911, twenty-three sacks with about 75,000 items of aerial mail were delivered to Hendon. They had to wait all day for the wind to drop, but at 4.58pm, Gustav Hamel took of in a Blériot with bag No. 1, the privileged mail, printed in violet, for the Royal Family and various dignitaries.
He arrived at Windsor at 5.11pm. He handed the bag to the Postmaster at Windsor. Some mail was delivered immediately, then the bag was resealed and rushed to the post office. The mail was sorted and despatched in time to catch the 6pm train to London.
Windsor to Hendon
On Sunday 17th September 1911, several thousand people gathered to see Greswell and Hamel take off for the first Windsor to London aerial mail. Four mail bags were brought from Windsor Post Office, but because the wind was still high, the pilots could only take one bag each. They used the two Blériot aircraft and took off at 5.15pm. Greswell, the senior pilot, arrived at Hendon at 5.35pm and Hamel at 5.55pm. All the mail carried that day was backstamped at the Cricklewood Post Office at 12.15am on September 18th. The rest of the mail was flown the following day and not backstamped.
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