Fairview’s airport was featured in several photos in the Centennial Booklet and this picture had special meaning. In 1918 the U.S. began offering airmail. In 1968 the post office was celebrating 50 years of this service with a new stamp. And, oh, by the way, the cost of stamps went up to 6 cents each!
When airmail service was 20 years old (1938), the idea was to make it more local, bring the service to all the smaller post offices. “Girard was one of about 10,000 post offices that had its own cachet for all the airmail sent that week. Generally, airmail pieces were taken to Cleveland by train and flown on to their final destination.” During the week of May 15 – 21 small towns and big cities across the U.S. planned special activities to commemorate the week. Everyone was encouraged to mail something by email, even an empty envelope!
On Wednesday of that week the plan was for a local pilot in many areas across the nation to pick up and carry the mail from place to place. They would land on back roads, fields and other cleared areas to get sacks of mail waiting for them. In Erie County is was Fairview’s Neil McCray who was the selected pilot for this important task.
Beginning with the Fairview mail, he flew to Girard, Albion, Edinboro, McKean, Erie, Wesleyville, North East, Wattsburg, Waterford, Union City and Corry, “finally delivering the mail to Port Erie (now the Erie International Airport) for transport to Cleveland.”
The photo (incorrectly dated 1936) shows Neil McCray in a light-colored suit, standing in front and holding his light-colored hat. The postmaster at the time was Ferd Niebauer, kneeling in front in a light-colored suit and holding a hat. Others in the photo include members of the Borough Council and U.S. postal officials. The young boys on the left are unknown.
Quotes are from: Cloud Busters – Neil McCray and The Erie County Airport.