Airmail (or air mail, in French Par avion) is mail that is transported by aircraft. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail, and usually costs more to send. Airmail may be the only option for sending mail to some destinations, such as overseas, if the mail cannot wait the time it would take to arrive by ship, sometimes weeks. Specific instances of a letter being delivered by air long predate the introduction of Airmail as a regularly scheduled service available to the general public.
Although homing pigeons had long been used to send messages (an activity known as pigeon mail), the first mail to be carried by an air vehicle was on January 7, 1785, on a balloon flight from Dover to France near Calais.
During the first aerial flight in North America by balloon on January 9, 1793, from Philadelphia to Deptford, New Jersey, Jean-Pierre Blanchard carried a personal letter from George Washington to be delivered to the owner of whatever property Blanchard happened to land on, making the flight the first delivery of air mail in the United States.
The first official air mail delivery in the United States took place on August 17, 1859, when John Wise piloted a balloon starting in Lafayette, Indiana with a destination of New York. Weather issues forced him to land in Crawfordsville, Indiana and the mail reached its final destination via train. In 1959 the U.S. Postal Service issued a 7 cent stamp commemorating the event.
Balloons also carried mail out of Paris and Metz during the Franco-Prussian War (1870), drifting over the heads of the Germans besieging those cities. Balloon mail was also carried on an 1877 flight in Nashville, Tennessee.
The introduction of the airplane in 1903 generated immediate interest in using them for mail transport. The first official airmail flight was conducted by Fred Wiseman, who carried three letters between Petaluma, California and Santa Rosa, California on 17 February 1911; the world's second airmail flight came the next day, when French pilot Henri Pequet carried 6,500 letters a distance of 13 km from Allahabad, India to Naini, India, then part of the British Empire.
The world's first scheduled airmail post service took place in the United Kingdom between the London suburbs of Hendon, North London, and Windsor, Berkshire, on 9 September 1911.
In the aftermath of the First World War the Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and the Royal Air Force pioneered a scheduled airmail service between Folkestone, Kent and Cologne, Germany. The service operated between December 1918 to the Summer of 1919, its purpose was to provide troops of the British Army stationed in Germany with a fast mail service. Throughout the 1920s the Royal Air Force continued to develop air routes through the Middle East.
Although mail flights were being accomplished around the world, the first airmail service established officially by an airline occurred in Colombia, South America, in the 19th of October 1920. Scadta, the first airline of the country, flew landing river by river delivering mail in its destinations