The Transylvania Times -

Picturing The Past: First Airmail Flight From Transylvania Co. May 1918


Last updated 5/18/2020 at 1:12pm

Floyd Brown's J5 Travelair plane prepares to depart from Rosman. "Dr. Osborne's Movie Reels of Rosman 1930's Through 1960's" includes two short clips from the special day.

The first official airmail service in the U.S. took place on May 15, 1918. Twenty years later Postmaster General James. A. Farley came up with an idea to promote airmail service and aid struggling airline companies through a week-long celebration.

National Air Mail Week was a country-wide campaign to show the efficiency of sending letters and packages via air service. A new 6-cent red, white and blue stamp featuring an eagle was unveiled for the event.

Nearly 10,000 postal locations participated in the special event by designing unique cover envelopes to be used during the week of May 15-21, 1938. Rosman Postmaster L.V. Sigmon requested the slogan, "Come Visit Beautiful Sylvan Valley" for airmail envelopes leaving from Rosman. Throughout the week letters postmarked Rosman were delivered to Greenville and Spartanburg first, then sent by air to their destination.

Thursday, May 19 was designated as the day when special flights from every participating cities and towns would deliver mail across the United States by air. This was accomplished by enlisting volunteer pilots as postal service employees for one day.

Pilot Floyd Brown was greeted by a large crowd when he arrived at Dr. Joe Osborne's airfield in Rosman at 1:12 p.m. Postmasters from Brevard, Pisgah Forest, Balsam Grove and Highlands joined in a short ceremony and sending off letters on the first air mail flight from Transylvania County. He departed at 1:25 pm with 425 letters weighing fifteen pounds, ten ounces which were delivered to the Asheville-Hendersonville Airport. From there the letters were combined with other airmail from Western North Carolina to continue on its route via Charlotte.

The week-long event proved to be very successful as that over 16 million letters and 9,000 parcels were delivered throughout the country. Collecting the special cover envelopes has become a popular hobby. If anyone has one of the cover envelopes from Rosman please contact the Local History Room at the Library.

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the N.C. Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at or (828) 884-1820.)


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