When India created history by world''s first airmail 100 years

Written by: Pti
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U.P. was United Provinces as it was called in those days from the present Uttar Pradesh and some British officialsimported aircraft through ship in knocked down condition andreassembled them at the exhibition grounds for the generalpublic to have a look at it.

Wyndham, the promoter of the specific event approachedthe postal authorities and with their consent arranged totransmit some mail bags in the flight when a Christian Mission(Tinity Church) came forward to sponsor the actual flying ofthe aircraft over the exhibition grounds. The objective was toconstruct a Hostel for Youth elsewhere in Allahabad.

The Surveyor General who was also CEO of the postalreadily obliged for the mail bags transmission and also madeapproval for the issuance of a special cachet to commemoratethe occasion.

The special cachet/post-mark were in a circular shapewith inscriptions of "FIRST AERIAL POST" and "U.P.

EXHIBITION ALLAHABAD". The specially designed die alsofeatured a line drawing of an Aircraft hovering above somemountains and for the uniqueness of the occasion the postmarks were applied with Magenta ink instead of theconventional black color.

The organizers were very keen on the light weight thatcould be carried by the Vintage Aircraft and with carefulcalculation only a limited number of letters namely 6,500 wereallowed inside the special mail bag loaded in the aircraft.

On the historic day of February 18, 1911 as witnessedby thousands of people at the exhibition venue (since itsynchronized with the Kumba Mela year the crowd was said to beeven one lakh plus) the special aircraft took off from theexhibition grounds at 17.30 hrs, crossed the river Yamuna andlanded at a place called Naini Junction alongside the compoundwall of the Central Prison in the outskirts of Allahabad.

To symbolize the rare event, the postal authoritiesdestroyed the special circular die produced for the occasionso that the sense of rarity and uniqueness were adhered.

Among the 6,500 letters carried in the historic flight40 precious letters were there which featured a photograph ofthe aircraft along with the aviator and also tagged with theautograph of Piquet.

Philatelists have come out with details of the ordinaryletters, registered mails and as well the 40 post cards asrecorded in the documents of the postal department.

Soundararajan said many a research had been done on theepisode and it was recorded that the date of the flight had tobe postponed because of the fact that landing site had to bepruned by removing thorns and shrubs enabling the flyingmachine to land safely without puncturing the tyres.

It is said that at the intervention of the seniorofficials gathered at U.P. Exhibition grounds the prisonersof Naini obliged to spruce up the site for making it as a goodtarmac.

Pequet died in 1974 at the age of 86 in his nativeplace in France and the French Government is now issuing aspecial postage stamp in his honor.

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