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Bob Fogg's mail plane making a run to Weirs Beach.

Reprinted from The Manchester Union - August 7, 1925 edition - Courtesy Beth Lavertue, Weirs Historian

This interview of a Union correspondent with Robert S. Fogg, United States mail pilot, was sent to Manchester via the air route from Wolfeboro.

WOLFEBORO-AUG. 7 - A few generations ago a surprised nation sat up and took notice of the “Pony express.” and the speed with which it carried a letter across the American continent. Just as enthusiastic as people were in those pioneer days are residents of the Winnipesaukee region over the rural mail service introduced here Aug. 1.

The “pony express” was acclaimed as a great forward step, but where it took a rider days and weeks to cross the plains, it takes but a few minutes over an hour for United Stated mail pilot Robert S. Fogg of Concord to cover 65 miles, and drop and take on mail from 10 camps located at various points on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Complained of Poor Service

For some time residents in the lake region had complained of the poor mail service. The Lake Winnipesaukee Region associates were called in for assistance. Headed by President James R. Irwin, the members resolved to obtain the best service possible. Meetings were called, the post office department in Washington was consulted and as a result a flying boat was chartered from August 1 to September 7.

The innovation has resulted in many pleasant surprises. Where newspapers once reached the remote corners of the lake region after 11 o’clock in the morning, they are now received as early as 7 a.m. through the air service.
Four hours after a newspaper is run off the press in the Union and Leader establishment in Manchester, Frank Hobbs, prominent resident of the town, is reading the news in the Union. Before the air mail was inaugurated he was obliged to wait until 11 o‘clock.

When the 5:55 train from Boston reaches the Weirs 10 sacks are dropped into waiting hands and, without taking them to the local post office, are thrown into compartments on the Fogg plane but a few hundred feet from the station. Railway mail clerks, in cooperation with the pilot, quickly sort the first class mail and 15 minutes later the plane had started on its daily route.

It is a 16-mile trip to this town, the first stop of 10 for the pilot. Ten minutes after the start, flying gracefully like a great bird, the plane is halted at the local pier. The pilot is met at the landing and exchanges sacks, one containing mail for residents here, and the other outgoing mail. Not a moment is lost, and within a few minutes the flying boat, at 6:25 o‘clock, is headed for Camp Wyanoke, three miles away.

In approximately two minutes time the ‘ship’ plows the water to the landing pier, where the exchange of pouches takes place. There are 250 boys at the camp and at every appearance of “Bob” Fogg he is greeted with cheers, for his coming means mail from home. The next stop, at Camp Ossipee, two miles away, is made two minutes later, and the plane continues to Phillip Smith’s Landing. Four miles further is Camp Belknap, the distance being covered in about four minutes and then the mail pilot speeds on to Camp Wawbeek, the Chester L. Campbell summer place. It is a distance of three miles and is covered in as many minutes.

Leaving Camp Wawbeek, Pilot Fogg drives his machine to Camp Winaukee covering the mile in a minute. Next on the route comes Long Island, a distance of five miles covered in four minutes. Sandy Island, the Boston Y.M.C.A. camp is next in line, a mile further. Camp Idewild, the last stop before the trip back to the Weirs is another mile, with the pilot making the final outward stage in a minute.

At 7:20 o‘clock the plane is again docked at the mail plane landing near the station at the Weirs and the mail it has collected is rushed to the post office, where it is stamped and placed on the 8:05 train for Boston.

No Long Stops

The average stop of the plane at each camp is two minutes. The speed with which the route is covered gives local post office employees ample time to prepare the mail in sacks for the southbound train.

Every trip sees 200 to 400 pounds of first class mail and newspapers loaded on the plane and taken across the lake. Parcel post packages and other pieces of mail not in the first class are carried to the various points on the lake by the United States mail boat Uncle Sam, but delivery is made several hours later than the plane delivers mail.

It is estimated by Pilot Fogg that 2000 pieces of mail are brought back daily by the plane to the local postoffice. The air mailman points with pride to the fact that where it formerly took three days to receive an answer to a letter mailed from Wolfeboro, the answer can now be received in 24 hours, owing to the speed and efficiency of the plane. A letter is taken on the morning trip, placed on the Boston train a few hours later, and is delivered in the afternoon. If an answer is sent immediately, it is carried back the next morning.

The rest of the day Pilot Fogg devotes his time to carrying passengers in his 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza motor flying plane. It is equipped for two passengers besides himself, but while on the air mail trip he makes the journey alone and utilizes the extra space for mail.

Veteran Aviator

He has been an aviator for eight years and saw service as an instructor of acrobatic flying at Love Field, Dallas, Tex., during World War. Not once, he says, during his long career, has he been injured in an accident.

He has spent approximately 2,000 hours in the air, he estimates. An aviator, he points out, is judged by the number of hours he has spent in the air. Just as a chauffeur is judged by the number of miles he has driven.

“I did get a thrill on my first trip when I thought that I was the first pilot in the country to carry rural air mail. However, it is only paving the way for Uncle Sam to deliver most of the mail by the same route,” he said.

“It is a pleasure to give residents of the lake region their mail early in the morning. I made my first flight last Saturday, and it was raining hard and blowing. That didn’t stop me, because I expect to run into more difficult weather than that before my contract expires on Sept. 7.

The introduction of the novel way of delivering rural mail was brought about by lake region associates, Congressman Fletcher Hale of Laconia, John H. Bartlett, first assistant postmaster general at Washington, and Senator George H. Moses.

J.O. Ashley, railway mail superintendent of White River Junction, Vt.. and Chief Clerk Larrington of the railway mail service at Washington were brought here to investigate the complaint of lake folks that mail service was not up to standard. The result of the investigation was the recommending of air service as the best way of correcting the fault.

It marked the first contract signed by the government calling for delivery of R.F.D. all by airplane. By motor boat it takes five hours to cruise around the lake. The plane covers the route in one hour and ten minutes.


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