India on First Aerial Post (1911-86)
Complete set of 2 nos of commemorative postage stamps on the 75th Anniversary of the First Official Airmail Flight, Allahabad–Naini :
Issued by India
Issued on Feb 18, 1986
Issued for : The Department of Posts is privileged to issue a set of two special stamps on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the historic First Aerial Post.
Type : Stamps, Postal Used
Colour : Multi colour
Denomination : 50 & 300 Paise
Printed at : India Security Press
- The ties between man’s unfolding history in the air and his transport of written message has always been close. Despite the fact that air-plane development centred itself in the United States and Europe, the first officially flown mail in the heavier than air machine occurred deep in the heart of Asia, in India itself.
- Towards the end of 1910, Walter Windham, an Englishman was invited by the government of the United Provinces of India to take part in their annual commercial and cultural exposition at Allahabad in February, 1911. He was asked to bring planes and pilots to make demonstration flights to help advance Indian understanding of the airplane and the young art of flying.
- During the course of his stay in Allahabad, Walter Windham was approached by the chaplain of the Holy Trinity Church in the city. “The respected Clergyman ….. asked me if I could help him to raise funds for his new hostel, and it occurred to me that this could be done by inaugurating an aerial post.“ And thus the idea of the world’s first official airplane mail was born.
- The Postmaster General of the United Provinces, Sir Geoffrey Clarke, and the Director General of the Post Office in India both granted approval for mail to be officially received and specially cancelled prior to transport by one of Windham‘s planes. The public was invited to deliver stamped and addressed mail to the chaplain of the Church, enclosing either six-pence or six annas with each letter to be posted by air. Or it was possible to hand a letter to a Postal Official at the tent hanger at the parade ground, paying the extra cost at that time.
- The special mail flight was actually made on February 18, 1911, two days earlier than planned. Thousands of Indian citizens viewed Pequet‘s takeoff, as did United Provinces‘ Governor, Sir John Hewett and his wife.
- Flying one of the two Sommer-type biplanes from the parade ground, Pequet made history by carrying approximately 6,500 letters and cards on the first authorised airmail flight. The flight itself, for reasons of safety and convenience, was limited to about 5 miles, Pequet coming down near the jail in the town of Naini, on the outskirts of Allahabad. Here the mail was turned over to postal officials for surface transport to destinations all over the world. Pequet‘s journey to Naini had required all of 13 minutes.
- The special Postmark used on the Allahabad mail was quite distinctive. The die for it was cut at the insistence of the Government of India and was designed by Walter Windham, showing the silhouette of a biplane in flight over the mountains of Asia. The Postmark was made at the postal works in the city of Aligarh and was reported to have been destroyed immediately after Pequet‘s mission was accomplished.
- Text based on material received from Indian Philatelic Foundation, New Delhi.