Yesterday was quite a day for Fred Wiseman Centennial Celebration enthusiasts. The scale model of his 1911 airplane (built by PAPA volunteers), that flew the first airmail letter on a flight (open to the public) from Petaluma to Santa Rosa, 100 years ago on February 17-18, 1911, was “flown” by a AAA truck from the Petaluma Airport (where it has been hanging from a hanger ceiling) to the Petaluma Historical Museum, where it is now “flying” high in time for the opening night of their “Flight – A Tribute to Aviation” exhibit on Wednesday, February 2, at 6:00 p.m.

The “Flight” exhibit is designed to not only celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the First Airmail Flight by Fred Wiseman, but to bring life to the stories of airplane engines and human endeavor in aviation since that historic flight. Incidentally, among the cargo he carried were three letters. One of them was from the Petaluma Postmaster, J.E. Olmstead, to the Postmaster of Santa Rosa, H.L. Tripp. It read in part, “Speed the day when the United States mail between our sister cities, of which this letter is the pioneer, may all leave by the air route with speed and safety.”

PAPA member (Petaluma Area Pilots Association) and Museum volunteers orchestrated yesterday’s “flight” which included disassembling the plane before “taxiing” it on to the truck; and then, putting it back together, once it had been moved into the Museum. It was then lifted up on top of a pedestal in order for visitors to have a better view. Visitors who have also seen the restoration of Wiseman-Cooke plane, now suspended in the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., will be impressed with the similarities.

Although the U.S. Post Office Department recognizes Earle Ovington as the first “official” air mail pilot, because he was “sworn in” by the Postmaster General September 23, 1911, the Smithsonian Institution confirmed on May 15, 1947, that Wiseman’s  feat as the world’s first airmail run. Coincidently, on February 18, 199=11, Henri Pequet, flew the mail five miles from Allahabad to Naini, United Provinces of India. Wiseman ranks by one day as the first in the world.

(NOTE: Hopefully, the following photograps may be added in this space. Stay tuned.)

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“Taxiing” at the Airport                              “Landing” at the Museum

A New “Hanger”                                                 Reassembly Crew

“Lift Off”                                                               “Flying High”

The Museum’s “Flight” Exhibit will be available from from February 2 until April 24. In addition, there will be afternoon Exhibit Guest Speakers on February 12, 26, March 12, 26, and April 9. The Historical Museum is located at 40 Fourth Street (and “B”), and the hours are: Thurs.-Sat. 10-4/ Sundays 12-3. . For more information, go to http://www.petalumamuseum.com or phone (707) 778-4398.

Stay tuned for additional Wiseman Centennial Celebration events scheduled for the Petaluma Regional Library (11 a.m.-Noon) on Feb. 17, and the Petaluma Airport Ceremony on Sat., Feb. 19, from 11 a.m.-Noon (which will include a reenactment flight.) Fasten your seat belts and get ready to “take off” on this historic journey.