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The story of Westfield’s first air mail flight

Dibbles Dabbles

April 4, 2012
By Billie Dibble - Westfield Historian, 1976-2006 (editorial@westfieldrepublican.com) , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

This article first published March 29, 1984:

In February of 1928 the Westfield Chamber of Commerce met to discuss ways and means to provide an airport for Westfield.

The feeling was that it would be a fine thing for the village as well as providing a stopping place for the Buffalo and Cleveland Air Mail planes in case of severe weather. The previous summer several planes had landed near Bell Brothers' Service Station on West Main Road to take on gasoline. The Chamber was looking for a larger field near the village.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
National Airmail Week was celebrated in Westfield, May 19, 1938, with this special cachet prepared by the Westfield Post Office. The increased rate for airmail at that time was six cents.

The next month William Crandall made an exciting trip in the westbound airmail plane airmail plane from Buffalo to Cleveland. The plane went over Westfield at about 3:30 p.m. It circled the village and Willie waved to his friends on the street. Strong winds were blowing but the plane rode smoothly. The passenger reported that it was colder than

In April, Chamber of Commerce members and friends, more than 200 in number, attended a banquet at Murray Hill. The newly enclosed spacious veranda, now an airy L-shaped room, accommodated the crowd nicely. President McElheney introduced the toastmaster, Hugh Bodine of Jamestown, who in turn introduced Harry F. Blee of the Aeronautic Division of the United States Department of Commerce. The speaker had been secured through the courtesy of Congressman Dan Reed and Secretary Hoover. At a later meeting of the C of C it was thought that a suitable field on the Main Road could be purchased for about $15,000 which could be drained and graded for $5,000. In June it was reported that great difficulty was being experienced in finding a field to comply with requirements.

About that time Col. Charles A. Lindbergh passed over Westfield on his way to Buffalo from Indianapolis. Because of poor visibility the "Flying Colonel" followed the shoreline of Lake Erie at an altitude not much over 200 feet above the ground.

The Westfield Republican of June 20, 1928 published a letter from D.K. Falvay - Walter's father - in which he asked, "Are Your Taxes High Enough? Can we afford an Air Port in these hard times?" If you notice the date you will recall that really hard times were just ahead. At a special election the airport lost by a large majority.

Two months later it was announced that Sam F. Nixon was undertaking the air field as a private enterprise and had made arrangements with the Department of Commerce for the use of his Main Road farm as an emergency landing field. Do you remember when the beacon light sent its beam through the area from darkness until dawn?

It was 10 years later when the Westfield Post Office prepared a special cachet showing the Barcelona Lighthouse. A Special Air Mail Flight from Jamestown to Buffalo was scheduled to leave Jamestown Airport Thursday, May 19, 1938 at 12:50 p.m. Westfield's special air pouch was to close at 1 p.m. sharp, the plane to arrive at Westfield 1:05 and leave at 1:15; all this in celebration of National Air Mail Week. Promptly at 1:10 Postmaster E.N. Skinner passed up to Pilot Schroeder the county's prize pouch from Westfield, containing 1,620 letters, and the plane was off to Buffalo.

Pouches containing 7,331 air mail letters were started along the aerial trail in Buffalo that same afternoon to project the first official airmail flight from Jamestown's North Main Street Extended Municipal Airport. Terminal of the flight, part of the observance of National Air Mail

Week, was Buffalo, with the intermediate stop at Westfield.

Some time ago Charles Lott presented to the Patterson Library an envelope showing the cachet of that First Special Flight Air Mail from Westfield, May 19, 1938. I wonder how many of the 1,620 letters that left Westfield on that day are still in existence.

Dibs and dabs - The story of Westfield's First Air Mail Flight reminded me of the tale of the man who delivered mail to points on Chautauqua Lake - Celeron, Bemus Point, Chautauqua and Mayville - in his hydro-aeroplane during the summer of 1914, 24 years before the First Special Flight from Westfield.

 
 

 

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