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[[image - black & white photograph of stamp with an airplane and text: US Postage 24 Cents 24]] [[caption]] • FIRST Air Mail Stamp issued by the United States-nearly thirty years ago [[/caption]]

authorized demonstration flights of mail were made in every section of the land. Barnstormers followed carnivals, state fairs and circuses. Their hops, made in bamboo and fabric crates were made as stunts and when passengers could not be induced to risk a flight, these men carried souvenir mail to help defray the expenses. Folks bought them as mementos of a novel, transient "act". Little did they realize then that they were witnessing the embryonic waddling of aviation, and that those quarter souvenirs would some day be worth the price of a vacation. 

On May 15, 1918, the Post Office Department inaugurated the first regular airmail service by establishing a government route between New York, Philadelphia and Washington. A special stamp was issued for the ocassion:a twenty-four cent denomination for it cost that much to mail a letter 219 miles in those days. Today it costs less to send a letter 12,000 miles from Puerto Rico to Guam.

To commemorate the initial flight, the Post Office applied a distinctive cancellation to each letter carried on the opening day. The government still continues this practice whenever a new route is inaugurated, or when another city is added to an existing one. The application of such postmark, or cachet, dates from 1870, the time of the Paris Balloon posts, and makes the cover bearing one a piece readily significant and attractive to airpost
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