Early photo showing transfer of air mail bags from a de Havilland DH-4 biplane at the San Francisco Marina airfield to a truck with sign on its side ‘1111 U.S. Mail’. Pilot leaning on plane, two men transferring mail bags to the truck. Another man standing beside pilot.
Labeled ‘From Mail Plane to Motor Truck at the San Francisco Field’. French text on back repeating the front label.
Crease and small tear UR corner. Couple of dimples in photo UL. Back toned.
5” x 7”
By 1919 several west coast airmail routes were being explored. Mapping the route from San Diego to San Francisco was completed on Christmas Day that year. The plane departed San Diego with stops at Los Angeles, Mojave, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Stockton prior to landing at San Francisco’s Marina airfield. Total flying time for the 600 mile trip was 10 hours and 20 minutes at an average speed of 58 miles per hour. The pilots reported “favorable conditions” along the route. In 1920 the grassy field at the Marina was named Crissy Army Airfield for Major Dana H. Crissy who was killed in a crash landing attempt at Salt Lake City.
The Dayton-manufactured deHavilland DH-4 (with modifications and a name change to DH-4B) would become the aircraft that built the airmail service, with over 100 planes in use. The plane was first given by the army to the Post Office as war surplus. The DH-4 had been a successful military aircraft, but as the Post Office discovered after several flights, it needed several alterations before becoming a successful airmail plane. As an airmail plane, the DH-4 had many inherent problems, including a weak frame, poor wing fabric, and landing gear that was too frail for its new mail-carrying weight The plane was improved with a sturdier, stronger fuselage, a move of the gas tank forward for balance, and a switch of the pilot’s seat from front to back.