Women carrying roller skates boarding an airplane. I just don’t know.
In 1932, a French illustrator named Georges Hamel, who worked as “Géo Ham,” sent a letter via air mail to a friend in Santiago, Chile, and began to wonder how it traveled and how many men risked their lives to see that it was delivered. So he arranged to fly with the French Aéropostale on the same route as the letter. Over the desert coast of Africa, he roasted by day and froze by night; a mail boat took him across the Atlantic to South America, where he continued by air down the coast and then over the Andes mountains. His watercolors of the 21,000-mile journey were published in L’Illustration magazine; here are six of them:
Mail is loaded onto a Latécoere 26 airplane at an Aéropostale outpost, Cape Juby, in the Spanish Sahara.
Hamel’s interpreter rides with the mail bags from Cape Juby to Dakar.
The mail boat Aéropostale II in heavy seas crosses from Africa to South America.
Approaching Sugar Loaf at the entrance to Rio de Janeiro Bay, Brazil.
The Latécoere 26 with its wheel-mounted landing lights flies into Mendoza, Argentina, where the mail is transferred to a high-flying Potez 25 biplane piloted by Henri Guillaumet for the flight over the Andes.
On the final, turbulent leg over the mountains to Santiago, Hamel’s leather flying suit is stuffed with newspapers for insulation from the -35 degree cold, and he is secured in the mail compartment with ropes.
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My thanks to Flying the Mail (1982) by Donald Dale Jackson.
Prince Heinrich Albrecht Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, brother of the Kaiser, first flew in 1910, and between 1912 and 1914 organized flying competitions in Germany. This postcard by Ernst Riess (1884-1962) commemorates the second competition. It appears in The Postcard Age: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection (2012), with text by Lynda Klich and Benjamin Weiss, published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.