Three historic airplanes stopped at the Iowa City Airport on Monday in a weather-delayed journey that’s retracing the path of the first Air Mail flight. 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 other is about 90-percent original.
The planes have been delayed for four days getting to Iowa in a journey as Addison says they seek to recreate the first Air Mail flight 90 years ago.
Addison 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.
Addison says the difference today are the many towers that prevent the pilots from flying at the very low altitudes that the mail pilots flew at. 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 Iowa City stop was one of 15 along the original U.S. Air Mail cross country route and it’s 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.