Three antique airplanes are making their way across Nebraska today (Tuesday) as part of a journey that’s retracing the path of the first Air Mail flight some nine decades ago. Pilot Addison Pemberton is flying a 1928 Boeing 40-C, and the other planes are a 1927 Stearman C-35 and a 1930 Stearman 4-E.Pemberton says all the planes have been restored, as the plane he flies came from a crash on a mountain. One of the others is about 70-percent original and the third is about 90-percent original. The planes made a stop in Omaha on Monday and overnighted in Grand Island. Today, they’re flying to North Platte and then on to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Addison says they seek to recreate the first Air Mail flight 90 years ago. He says it’s been a dream for years for his fellow pilots Ben Scott and Larry Tobin and says they are all very passionate about the flight and have studied it for many, many years. Addison says while the route is the same, a lot has changed since the first flights in 1918. He says the differences today include the many towers that prevent the pilots from flying at the very low altitudes where the mail pilots flew. He says there’s also global positioning satellites and radar now, which Addison says makes the unaided flights in the winter 90 years ago seem incomprehensible.
The Nebraska stops are part of the original U-S Air Mail cross-country route and the flight is scheduled to end in San Francisco. The Smithsonian Institute has a website tracking the progress of the flight at: www.airspacemag.com. The pilots are paying for the trip, and the U-S Postal Service is helping promote it.