FAM 5 Cover (flown by Charles Lindbergh)
With his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh became an instant star, and his name is widely recognized even today. What many may not realize is that Lindbergh earned a living as an airmail pilot before he flew his way to fame.1
The famous pilot’s connection with the mails did not end with his trans-Atlantic trip, however. Pan American Airways won the contracts for several foreign air mail routes between the U.S. and Latin America, and the company hired Lindbergh as a technical advisor.2 Lindbergh carried thousands of pieces of mail, including the cover illustrated here, on FAM 5’s first flight in 1929.3
A 13¢ Benjamin Harrison stamp from the fourth Bureau issue joins the 14¢ American Indian stamp on the front of the cover, which has a standard “first flight” handstamped cachet marking the inauguration of “air mail, international, F.A.M. 5, Miami–Canal Zone.” Together, the two stamps paid the correct postage for FAM 5’s first flight: 25¢ per half ounce, plus the normal 2¢ per ounce rate that applied to regular mail.4
The cover was postmarked in Miami, Florida, on the morning of February 4, then again in Cristobal, Canal Zone, on February 6. From there, the cover was carried by land to Balboa, Canal Zone, where an additional postmark on the reverse indicates it was received and presumably delivered to Mr. Claude Ott on February 7.
Following Lindbergh’s initial flight, over three months passed before Pan American began regular FAM 5 service.
- Air Mail Maverick. PBS. Accessed 4 Nov. 2010.
- Lindbergh: U.S. Air Mail Service Pioneer. Charles Lindbergh: An American Aviator. Accessed 4 Nov. 2010.
- FAM Foreign Air Mail First Flights F5. Aerodacious. 22 Dec. 2008. Accessed 4 Nov. 2010.
- Cote, Armand. FAM 5 Inaugural Flight: Covers & Cancellations. Canal Zone Study Group. 30 Sept. 2007. Accessed 4 Nov. 2010.