February 21, 1919: First air mail arrives in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1919, 19-year-old pilot Lieutenant Walter Bullock landed his plane on an ice field marked on  St. Louis Bay, delivering air mail to the Zenith City for the first time. The trip had been announced weeks earlier, with a report that an 1,800-square foot airfield had been marked off by the Duluth Motor Corps on the bay ice “adjoining Minnesota Point from Thirty-fifth to Thirty-ninth Streets.” The initial flight was supposed to have been piloted by Lieutenant C. W. Marshall on February 3, but a blizzard arrived the same day, delaying the flight.  Bullock took off from Minneapolis’s Lake Calhoun at 11:55 a.m., stopped once in Moose Lake to get some water, and landed in Duluth “on the bay ice at Thirty-fifth Street and Minnesota Avenue” at 2:20. Air time for the trip was one hour and 50 minutes, and along the way Bullock was accompanied by flight observer Major William Garis. Bullock was then joined by Duluth’s Lieutenant Walter Carpenter, and the two took to the air to delight spectators with “a number of ‘loops’ and ‘tail spins.’” The return trip was planned for noon the next day, but before that Bullock and Garis gave an exhibition, flying over both Duluth and Superior “to give people at the Head of the Lakes a chance to see the first airplane to reach Duluth from the Twin Cities.”

Vintage Air Mail sticker c. 1960

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