Transcontinental airmail 1920

Co-pilot on the first transcontinental airmail flight

A little more than a month after arriving in the U.S.A., Ernie was participating as mechanic and co-pilot in the US Postal Office’s first transcontinental airmail flight. John M. Larsen had sold 8 JL-6 aircraft to the US Postal Office, and transcontinental airmail was inaugurated with this flight, leaving New York on July 29, 1920. Ernie appears in this photo on the far left, next to Eddie Rickenbacker in the straw "boater" hat. The man fourth from the left is Bert Acosta, the pilot. A similar photo taken on this occasion, was published years later, evidently commemorating Ernie’s participation, probably in a local newspaper in Pennsylvania.

In all, three JL-6 aircraft left New York on this flight, with Ernie in the plane carrying Larsen, Rickenbacker, and E.E. Allyne, president of the Aluminum Castings Company. Pilot was Bert Acosta.

The postcard shows the route drawn in pencil from Chicago to Omaha, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Reno, San Francisco; and the home through Los Angeles, Tucson, El Paso, Kansas City, and Chicago.

Current official histories of air mail flight barely mention this event. The National Postal Museum and the National Air and Space Museum barely mention the role of the JL-6 or of John Larsen. Links to some of these accounts are given here:

Images on this page

Planes off to Pacific Coast, newspaper clipping, from an unknown but probably contemporaneous publication -- EBC

Postcard with a portion of the air mail route and route home penciled in -- EBC

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Mark Taylor,
Apr 25, 2011, 11:33 AM
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Mark Taylor,
Apr 25, 2011, 11:33 AM
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Mark Taylor,
Apr 24, 2011, 5:40 PM
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