Army Air Corp. Air Mail Accidents: February-April 1934 Special Collection SDASM.SC.0005

Finding aid prepared by Jenna L. Shaeffer
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA, 92101
(619) 234-8291
2010


Title: Army Air Corp. Air Mail Accidents
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.0005
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.4 Linear feet 1 manuscript box
Date (inclusive): 1934-1939
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence relating to Air Mail accidents in spring 1934.
Language of Materials note: English

Biographical/Historical note

The Army Air Corps Mail Operation (AACMO) was a reduced operation of 17 routes and 11,000 miles of airways. Nevertheless, the problems and risks were formidable. The Air Corps had about 1,500 airplanes, but nearly a third of them were trainers or special purpose aircraft. Most of the others were light, maneuverable airplanes built for combat in daylight and good weather. Most of the 250 Army pilots assigned to AACMO were lieutenants with less than two years of flying experience. Although the air mail would be transported mainly at night, only 31 of the pilots had more than 50 hours of nighttime flying. The AACMO flights were scheduled to begin in Newark, N.J., on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 19, but on Sunday afternoon, a blizzard moved east from the Rocky Mountains. It arrived in Newark around 3 p.m. and mail flights from there were canceled. The first flight departed instead from Kansas City, Mo., with 39 pounds of mail for St. Louis. Nine inches of snow accumulated in New York City, and New England had 15 inches. Despite numerous cancellations for weather, especially in the East, many of the flights got through. The initial loads were much heavier than expected because of the number of stamp collectors who wanted a letter on the historic first run. Two air mail airplanes crashed on Feb. 22, killing the pilots. The next day, an OA-4A amphibian aircraft, ferrying mail pilots, went down off the New York coast and a passenger drowned. There were dozens of crashes, and March 9 was a particularly bad day. Four air mail crew members—three pilots and a mechanic—were killed in crashes in Ohio, Florida, and Wyoming. That raised the AACMO death toll to 10. Roosevelt and the Air Corps were under fire for the recurring mishaps. On March 10, Foulois suspended the air mail operation for 10 days and ordered all of the aircraft and instruments to be checked thoroughly. Pilots with less than two years of experience were removed from AACMO duty. The suspension served no purpose except to create a political smoke screen. The pilots resented it as well as the assumptions about their competency that lay behind it. Operations resumed on March 19, reduced to eight routes from the previous 17, and covering 7,049 miles of airways instead of 11,000. A ninth route was added April 8. There were two more fatal accidents in March, but the Air Corps had gained proficiency in flying the mail. The operation stabilized and deliveries became routine. The Air Corps learned from the weaknesses exposed by the air mail operation. The old attitudes that assumed flying in daytime and good weather gave way to approaches that made use of instruments and radio communications. AACMO deficiencies alerted the nation to the needs of the Air Corps for better aircraft and equipment, and within a short time, the open-cockpit biplanes were rendered obsolete by a new generation of fighters and bombers. The Air Corps that entered World War II was an entirely different force than the one that had been ordered to carry the air mail seven years before.

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use note

For copyright and use restrictions, contact the library director.

Preferred Citation note

[Item], Army Air Corp Air Mail Accidents Special Collection, Archives, San Diego Air & Space Museum

Scope and Contents note

This series contains various correspondences (telegrams, radiograms, memorandums, index sheets, etc.) in regards to the Airmail Accidents of the Army Air Corps from February to April 1934.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Arnold, Henry Harley, 1886-1950
Fickel, Jacob E.
Foulois, Benjamin Delahauf, 1879-1967
Westover, Oscar, Brig. Gen., 1883-1938
Air Mail Service--United States--1930-1940

 

Box 01

Physical Description: 1. Folder cover “In this folder: Correspondence; data from P.O. Dept. Department of Commerce; Original tabulation sheets, Air Mail study.” 2. Page: Do Not Remove Fastener, Papers pertaining to Air Mail Accidents. 3. Correspondence to Major General Oscar Westover from Ambrose O’Connell, June 29, 1938. 4. Correspondence to Lyle H. Boren from H.H. Arnold, April 22, 1939. 5. Correspondence to Ambrose O’Connell from O. Westover, June 15, 1938. 6. Correspondence to 2nd Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr. from H.H.C. Richards, January 15, 1937. 7. Correspondence to 2nd Lt. Beirne Lay, Jr. from Westover, February 1, 1937. 8. Correspondence to Mitchel Field from Follett Bradley, July 20, 1934. 9. Correspondence to Cpt. Francis V. FitzGerald from R.M. Jones, July 3, 1936. 10. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from R.M. Jones, August 4, 1934. 11. Correspondence to Chief, National Guard Bureau from A.J. Lyon, April 18, 1934. 12. Correspondence to Chief, National Guard Bureau from Robert Goolrick, June 13, 1934. 13. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from H.C. Pratt, July 27, 1934. 14. Chart: Fatal Aircraft Incidents While Transporting Air Mail, Copied February 17, 1936. 15. Memorandum to General Westover from Max F. Schneider, August 15, 1934. 16. Index Sheet from Vincent Thurn, August 31, 1934. 17. Index Sheet from C.A.C., September 14, 1934. 18. Memorandum to Public Relations Branch, General Staff from R.M. Jones, September 25, 1934. 19. Index Sheet to Homer T. Bone from General Foulois, February 12, 1935. 20. Index Sheet to A. Morissette from C.A.C., February 15, 1935. 21. Correspondence to Mitchel Field from R.M. Jones, February 28, 1934. 22. Correspondence to H.C. Aigeltinger from R.M. Jones, March 1, 1934. 23. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from R.M. Jones, May 7, 1935. 24. Correspondence to Adjt. Gen. of the Army from Clare Gerald Fenerty, May 2, 1935. 25. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from R.M. Jones, May 17, 1935. 26. Correspondence to Clare Gerald Fenerty from E.T. Conley, May 25, 1935. 27. Index Sheet to E.R. Strong from Capt. Hoyt, June 12, 1935. 28. Correspondence to W.E. Whitson from Ross G. Hoyt, July 17, 1935. 29. Correspondence to Senator Copeland from Harry H. Woodring, November 21, 1935. 30. Correspondence to F.R. Neely from R.N. Jones, March 23, 1935. 31. Correspondence to War Department Chief from Jacob E. Fickel, May 1, 1934. 32. Correspondence to Chief of Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, May 1, 1934. 33. Correspondence to C.M. Cummings from S.P. Mills, May 2, 1934. 34. Correspondence to George C. Poeppel from C.A.C., Maay 9, 1934. 35. Correspondence to General Foulois from Captain Schneider, May 9, 1934. 36. Correspondence to Chief of Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, May 12, 1934. 37. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jones, May 14, 1934 38. Radiogram Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, May 14, 19??. 39. Correspondence to Chief of Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, May 28, 1934. 40. Correspondence to Chief of Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, May 31, 1934. 41. Memorandum to Colonel R.C. Humber from O. Westover, June 4, 1934. 42. Outgoing radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, June 5, 1934. 43. Incoming radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, June 5, 1934. 44. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, June 11, 1934. 45. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, June 21, 1934. 46. Index Sheet to Edith Lewis White from General Foulois, June 21, 1934. 47. Index Sheet to W.L. Ball from C.A.C., June 21, 1934. 48. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, June 23, 1934. 49. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, June 23, 1934. 50. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jacob E. Fickel, June 27, 1934. 51. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from R.M. Jones, July 9, 1934. 52. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from R.M. Jones, July 19, 1934. 53. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 37 through 53. 54. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 36. 55. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 35. 56. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 17-32. 57. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 34. 58. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 1-16. 59. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, April 4, 1934. 60. Correspondence to E.Z. Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 4, 1934. 61. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jacob E. Fickel, March 27, 1934. 62. Radiogram to Office Chief Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 4, 1934. 63. Radiograms to Chief of the Air Corps from E.Z. Mitchel Field, April 5, 1934 (3 pages). 64. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from Jacob E. Fickel, March 27, 1934. 65. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from R.E. Nugent, April 6, 1934. 66. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from E.Z. Mitchel Field, April 6, 19??. 67. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, E.Z. from Jacob E. Fickel, April 6, 1934. 68. Radiogram to Office Chief Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 6, 1934. 69. Correspondence to E.Z. Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 9, 1934. 70. Correspondence to E.Z. Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 9, 1934. 71. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, April 10, 1934. 72. Correspondence to Office Chief of Air Corps from Salt Lake City Utah, April 11, 1934. 73. Radiogram to Office Chief Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 11, 1934. 74. Radiogram to Office Chief Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 12, 1934. 75. Correspondence to Office Chief Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 12, 1934. 76. Correspondence to Charles L. Abernethy from B.D. Foulois, April 14, 1934. 77. Telegram to Chief of the Air Corps from Mitchel Field, April 15, 1934. 78. Telegraph to Office Chief of Air Corps from Eaker, April 16, 1934. 79. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Air Mail Route 12 from Ray A. Dunn, March 26, 1934. 80. Radiogram to E.Z. Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 17, 1934. 81. Radiogram to E.Z. Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 21, 1934. 82. Memorandum/Correspondence to Lt. Mills from Ralph S. Snavely, April 3, 1934. 83. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, April 18, 1934. 84. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jacob E. Fickel, April 18, 1934. 85. Correspondence to EZ Mitchel Field from Jones Eastern Zone, April 19, 1934. 86. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, April 19, 1934. 87. Index Sheet to Chief, Material Division from C.A.C., April 19, 1934. 88. Memorandum for Officer in Charge, Air Mail Operations from Max F. Schneider, March 14, 1934. 89. Radiogram to Office of Chief of Air Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah, April 19, 1934. 90. Radiogram to Office of Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, April 19, 1934. 91. Radiogram to Office of Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, April 20, 1934. 92. Correspondence to Captain Schneider from Office of the Chief of the Air Corps, April 26, 1934. 93. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, April 23, 1934. 94. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Warren C. Bailey, March 21, 1934. 95. Telegram to Major Knerr from Foulois, April 24, 1934. 96. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, April 26, 1934. 97. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Hickam, April 27, 1934. 98. Index Sheet to Chief, Material Division from C.A.C., April 28, 1934. 99. Correspondence to Chief, Material Division from Jacob E. Fickel, April 30, 1934. 100. Report of Airmail Accidents Number 54-62. 101. Telegraph to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, February 16, 1934. 102. Correspondence to Commanding Officers, All Air Corps Activities from Jacob E. Fickel, February 16, 1934. 103. Correspondence to William B. Bankhead from B.D. Foulois, February 26, 1934. 104. Correspondence to Commanding Officers, All Air Corps Activities from Jacob E. Fickel, February 27, 1934. 105. Correspondence to Commanding Officers, All Air Corps Activities from Jacob E. Fickel, February 27, 1934. 106. Radiogram to Commanding Officer, Eastern Zone from Foulois, March 5, 1934. 107. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Easter Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 6, 1934. 108. Radiogram to Office of Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 8, 1934. 109. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 8, 1934. 110. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 8, 1934. 111. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Sgt. Maginnis, March 9, 1934. 112. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, March 10, 1934 (2 pages). 113. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 10, 1934. 114. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 16, 1934. 115. Telegraph to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 17, 1934. 116. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 17, 1934. 117. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 19, 1934. 118. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 19, 1934. 119. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 19, 1934. 120. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones E.Z., March 19, 1934. 121. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Eastern Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 20, 1934. 122. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Eastern Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 20, 1934. 123. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, March 22, 1934. 124. Correspondence to Control Officer, Army Air Corps Mail Operations from Jacob E. Fickel, March 23, 1934. 125. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, March 23, 1934. 126. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from J.M. Cheney, March 236, 1934. 127. Reported Aircraft Accidents of All Description: Since Army started preparations for carrying the mail. 128. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Eastern Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 26, 1934. 129. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Hickam, March 28, 1934. 130. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Hickam, March 27, 1934. 131. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, March 28, 1934. 132. Correspondence to Chief of Air Corps from Jacob E. Fickel, March 29, 1934. 133. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, March 30, 1934. 134. Correspondence to Commanding Officers, All Air Corps Activities from Jacob E. Fickel, March 30, 1934. 135. Correspondence to Commanding Officers, All Air Corps Activities from Jacob E. Fickel, March 30, 1934. 136. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Eastern Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 30, 1934. 137. Correspondence to Commanding Officer, Western Zone from Jacob E. Fickel, March 30, 1934. 138. Telegraph to Chief of Air Corps from Hickam, March 31, 1934. 139. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, April 1, 1934. 140. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Hickam, April 2, 1934. 141. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Arnold, April 3, 1934. 142. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, April 3, 1934. 143. Radiogram to Chief of Air Corps from Jones Eastern Zone, April 4, 1934. 144. Correspondence to Chief of the Air Corps from Arnold, February 16, 1934.
 

Folder 01 – Correspondence 1

 

Folder 02 – Correspondence 2

 

Folder 03 – Signal Corps Radiograms & Telegrams

 

Folder 04 – Reports

 

Folder 05 - Miscellaneous