Finally, after previous efforts by local citizens who have campaigned and lobbied for Fred Wiseman’s historic flight on February 17-18, 1911, when he carried letters from the public, as well as one from the Petaluma Postmaster to the Postmaster of Santa Rosa; a “personalized” stamp acknowledging the fact he was the pilot who flew a heavier than air machine that delivered a letter, along with other cargo, from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, has been created.

Even though the U.S. Post Office Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. had already declared Earle Ovington’s flight on September 23, 1911, as the first “official” airmail service flight in the U.S. because he was “sworn in” by the U.S. Postmaster General,  Frank Hitchcock, as the first U.S. airmail pilot for the U.S. Post Office Department. A first U.S. Air Mail Flight – 1911 stamp honoring Earle Ovington’s flight has been issued.

Thirty-six years later, the Smithsonian Institution squared the record books with the announcement that Fred J. Wiseman was the first man in the world to fly mail on an airplane.. The fact remains that Wiseman’s 1911 flight was “the first recorded airplane flight sanctioned by a local post office and available to the public.” Consequently, Paul E. Garber, curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution, stated that Wiseman’s flight was “official” because the letter was stamped and authorized by the Petaluma postmaster. In spite of a major campaign by the Committee for the Wiseman Commemorative Stamp Project in 1986 (the flight’s 75th anniversary), no U.S. Post Office designed stamp has been issued to honor Fred J. Wiseman.

At long last, the first airmail flight stamp to honor this historic event has been designed and made available for sale to the public by the Petaluma Historical Society. It will be available at local Historical Society gift shops and book stores in Sonoma County.

A special event has also been scheduled for Thursday, February 17th, at  the Sonoma County Branch Library in Petaluma (100 Fairgrounds Drive) which is near the spot where Wiseman took off in historic Kenilworth Park. A slide talk presentation will be made by former Petaluma Airport Manager, Mike Glose, in the Library’s Community Room from 11:15-11:45 a.m. The “personalized” stamp, postcard, and envelope will be available for sale. Items that have been addressed and turned in for mailing by 3 p.m. will be “hand-stamped” with a cancellation mark that reads, “Feb. 17, 2011, Petaluma, CA.”

Contact Bill Hammerman, 762-6593, or e-mail b.hammerman@comcast.net for additional information or questions about purchasing any of these celebration items. The retail price for either the 6″x9″ postcard with a first-class stamp, or the 1968 envelope with a stamp is $3.00 each. If you purchase one of each, there is a special price of $5.00, which includes sales tax.

Get ready to “take off” and celebrate this historic Centennial event in your community. Consult http://www.fredwiseman.org for a county-wide calendar and schedule of Fred Wiseman celebration events.