Large Crowd Gathers for Air Mail Program

(Provided photo)

(Provided photo)

DUBOIS – Mike Solensky and Harvey Haag transported a large crowd back to the days of air mail pick-up during the 1940’s at the April meeting of the DuBois Area Historical Society. A crowd of 45 people overflowed the meeting room of the E.D. Reitz Museum for the program, “History of Air Mail in DuBois.”

Solensky is a retired U.S. Air pilot who grew up in Clearfield County and currently lives at Treasure Lake. He presented the first portion of the program relating to the history and operation of the air mail pick-up route, one where planes did not land but snagged mail bags while in flight.

DuBois and Clearfield were both stops on the newly conceived route on May 14, 1939. This flight came two days after the inaugural effort between Pittsburgh and Latrobe.

Instead of landing at airports, the airplane flew over and snagged a container of mail suspended between two poles on a nylon line. Once it was snagged, the bag was reeled into the plane with a winch by the flight mechanic, one of a two-man crew.

A container of mail to be delivered was dropped off at the same time. The DuBois pickup was made at the old airport at Spider Lake.

Haag, originally from Stump Creek and now living in Clearfield, presented the history of air mail postage. He displayed stamps and first day covers from his personal collection related to the air mail time period, which lasted until 1949. At that time, the rules changed allowing mail and passengers to be carried on the same flight, effectively ending the air mail experience.

Adding to the evening was the attendance of Clarence Krach. Krach, as a young boy, could be seen in a photo of the last air mail pickup in DuBois. All-American Aviation’s Clifford “Kip” Barraclough, who Solensky co-piloted for during his flying days, flew that final flight.

Upcoming DuBois Area Historical Society events include:

  • May 10 – Sixth Annual Spring Walk, Soldier, led by Betty Anderson, 10 a.m., Free. Participants will meet at Soldier Wesleyan Church on the Reynoldsville-Sykesville Road.
  • May 16 – Fundraiser at Italian Oven, DuBois, All Day. You can get a voucher from any board member or print one from the society’s Web site.
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