Commercial Aviation In The 1920's Essay

1807 words - 7 pages

Present-day aviators are heavily indebted to their predecessors from the 1920's. Although man first took flight in 1905, the twenties got the gears of aviation cranking in the right direction. Barnstormers would perform stunts at air shows and attract large crowds, however their daredevil approach achieved mixed results. The U.S. government also brought attention to aviation but their approach was very different. Through the use of the air mail service and legislation, they proved that commercial aviation could be a profitable and safe business to develop. And finally, the successful flight of Charles Lindbergh brought world wide interest to the flying industry. His accomplishment helped spark a new version of commercial aviation and opened the minds and wallets of the American people.The end of World War I created a unique set of circumstances that brought attention to aviation nationwide. After the war, the U.S. government quickly sold their excess aircraft very cheap to the general public, in an effort to cut their losses from the war. Military pilots, who returned home to find a lack of jobs in aviation, bought these surplus planes and began the barnstorming phenomenon. Lasting from the spring of 1919 until mid 1920, these barnstormers would give rides and perform various stunts at fairs nation-wide. Although they brought a lot of attention to the aviation with their performances, not all of it was positive. Due to the lack of aircraft parts, many pilots would fix their aircraft with anything they could find. Since these parts weren't always suitable for flight, many accidents occurred, creating a fear towards aviation. Although this fear took quite some time to erase, barnstormers are still credited for creating a sense of awe and curiosity that helped spawn the concept of commercial aviation.During this time, the air mail service had already taken flight in the United States. What started out as an experiment between the Army and the Post Office, quickly flourished into a service that continually gained momentum and changed commercial aviation forever. According to Mathew Koop, by 1917, the U.S. government felt that airplane development had reached a point where it was safe enough to test its potential. That year, Congress spent $100,000 for an experimental airmail service that was to be jointly carried out by the Army and the Post Office. The route chosen was between New York and Washington D.C., with Philadelphia as the intermediate stop to change pilots and refuel. The three-hour trip was to take place on May 15, 1918 and was successfully completed that day in Washington D.C. This accomplishment not only showed the possibilities of aviation, it also opened the doors for a further experimentation with the new form of transportation.With the Army's contract now expired, the Post office now delivered the air mail alone and for the most part, they were very successful. During their first year, they achieved an 89% success rate. The post...

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