National Geographic : 1926 Jan
VOL. XLIX, No. 1 WASHINGTON JANUARY, 1926 GJ-EO GlRAiHEC MAGAZlnE COPYRIGHT.1925. BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON D.C..INTHE UNITEDSTATES AND GREATBRITAIN ON THE TRAIL OF THE AIR MAIL A Narrative of the Experiences of the Flying Couriers Who Relay the Mail Across America at a Speed of More than 2,000 Miles a Day By LIEUT. J. PARKER VAN ZANDT, U. S. ARMY AIR SERVICE AUTHOR OF "Lo,OIKING 1)o\\N N 1 KULRUIE." IN TH IE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Airial PhotographsTaken by Capt. A. lW. Stevens for the U. S. Army Air Serzice " THENIsaidIwoulddiea bachelor," remarked Benedick, referring to his Beatrice, "I did not think I should live till I were married." Aircraft, many a good citizen will affirm, no doubt have their use in warfare; but, as for him and his affairs, they are a thing apart. New facts in time, however, sweep away the most stubborn prejudices. There is a revolutionary fact abroad in the land: aircraft have gone to work. And the Na tion is waking to find itself fast wedded to a new handmaid of progress-the United States Transcontinental Air Mail Service. FRONTIER SPIRIT LIVES AGAIN IN Tilf: AIR MAIL The story of this great overhead, sky line trail linking East and West, along which, through storm or calm, in dark ness or in light, a score of winged couriers relay the public mails across three thou sand miles of continent in less than a day and a half, is a modern romance of trans portation as fascinating as any that comes to us out of the colorful past. It is the undying spirit of the Old Frontier aflame again, that restless torch once borne by Daniel Boone and Bonne ville, the heritage from two hundred years' invasion of an untamed border land. It is the spirit that urged the lag ging caravans along the old Oregon Trail and spurred on the gallant riders of the Pony Express. It is the quickened tem per born out of the Winning of the West, that smolders in the blood of every true American,-that is the most American thing in all America. But picture it for yourself. A bitterly cold December night on the great upland prairies of Wyoming. The air is thick with swirling snow driven by a winter gale that sweeps down out of the hills, hidden far behind the somber curtain of the night. From the lighthouse tower at the Chey enne Air Mail Field, the great rotating beacon light ceaselessly flings its multi million candlepower beam against the en croaching horizon, piercing the snow filled air for a little way, glinting an in stant on the ice-laden telephone wires leading into town, and fleeting across the temporary lean-to shelters for the planes, where a disastrous fire had gutted the hangars a few weeks before. Midnight and minus 36 degrees.