Marker Monday: Ak-Sar-Ben Field and the U.S. Air Mail
Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers.
Ak-Sar-Ben Field, whose hangars were located on the southeastern corner of these grounds, was used extensively during the early development of U.S. Postal Air Mail Service. Ray Benedict landed here with the first airmail from Chicago on May 15, 1920 and William DeWald piloted the return flight the same day. The Omaha-San Francisco leg of the transcontinental route was opened by Pilot Buck Heforn the following September. Daytime airmail service from New York to San Francisco began on September 8, 1920 and the first shipment from the east was flown into Omaha by James Murray. Although the early airmail flights took place during daylight hours, the feasibility of night flying was soon explored. On February 22, 1921, Jack Knight took off from the North Platte, Nebraska, airfield on the first night airmail flight in the United States. He landed here at Ak-Sar-Ben Field before continuing on to Chicago. The efforts of these pioneer aviators led to the inauguration, on July 1, 1924, of day-night airmail service from coast to coast. In September 1974 the Air Mail Pioneers of America met in Omaha to observe the 50th Anniversary of this significant event in aviation history.
For one day in 1938, hundreds of Nebraska towns had direct airmail service. Read Kathleen Alonso's “3,937 Pounds of Letters: National Air Mail Week in Nebraska, May 1938,” Nebraska History (2005) here.
For Air Mail Week in 1938 more than two hundred Nebraska communities created their own commemorative designs for airmail envelopes, and the result is a study in local pride. Read John Carter's "Landmarks on Paper,” Nebraska History (2005) here.
Nebraska Marker Project
The Nebraska Marker Project is for the repainting, repair and in some cases, replacement of state historical markers throughout the state. Nebraska’s markers share our exciting history for generations to come. Please consider donating by visiting the Nebraska Marker Project webpage at http://nshsf.org/the-nebraska-marker-project/.