Airmail: The allure of the long-distance air letter

Airmail: The allure of the long-distance air letter

The young woman behind the desk at my local post office looked bewildered. “I think we’ve got some somewhere”, she mumbled before returning with a pile of dusty envelopes. “Nobody really asks of these any more,” she admitted.

A century ago this month the world’s very air that is first service began

Passed beneath the counter and into my hand was a typical example of a mode of communication who has all but vanished. Thanks to Skype, texts and e-mails, there’s need that is little for the small pale blue envelopes with the diagonal red and blue stripes around the border, extra thin blue writing paper and multitude of stamps and post marks that constitutes an air mail letter. Dr. Richard Saundry, editor for the British Air Mail Society Journal, believes that we’re at risk of losing something both powerful and romantic.

“I think it is very regrettable that nobody appears to use air mail any more”, he tells me. “We are now living in a rather age that is lazy the other has been lost. There’s a huge thrill and excitement, and a kind of romance in receiving an air mail letter through the opposite side around the globe in your door mat. The internet just can’t replace that.”

A hundred years ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began. Flying from Allahabad, near Delhi, only seven years following the Wright brothers made their first forays to the air, the plane, flown by a pilot that is french Henri Pequet, travelled 15 miles to Naini. Up to speed were six . 5 thousand letters including one compiled by Motilal Nehru, father associated with president that is first of India.

The united kingdom wasn’t far behind utilizing the first air mail flight lifting removed from Hendon to Windsor later that year. Today the speed that these pioneers succeeded in reaching to get letters around the world is seldom beaten. Richard during the fresh air Mail Society told me of a letter he possesses that has been sent from Buenos Aires to China in 1938. The letter arrived in 13 days- a feat that might be hard to match now without paying reasonably limited to a courier company that is private.

As a young child I was thinking there clearly was nothing more exciting than getting letters that are occasional my aunt in South Africa. Covered in strange stamps and smudged post marks, the creased letter would contain pages of dense hand writing describing life in Cape Town when you look at the latter many years of apartheid. It seemed almost like getting a personal letter from an esteemed foreign correspondent together with gravitas of receiving these letters was so excellent that, 20 years on, I still possess them. I still receive news from her, however these days it is by e-mail, the tone is scrappy and, during my hastily returned missives, a massive amount of effort and attempt at phrasing and sentence structure is missing.

“Getting an air mail letter was so much much better than a phone call”, admits Kate Hunter, a ward that is retired in Nottingham, whose husband had a lengthy career into the oil industry.

“He was away for months on end through the 1970’s and I always found the phone that is rushed he could occasionally make for me really unsatisfying”, she recalled to me.

“What i must say i loved were the times when an air mail letter from Kuwait or Dubai would slide through the letter box. It absolutely was only written down that my hubby was really able to express his feelings, let me know how much he had been missing me and present me a truer that is much of what he had been going through. There’s an honesty to a hand written letter which you can’t be in a phone call or an e-mail. I would personally want to have the letter, flake out from the sofa with a cup of tea and lose myself in just the handwriting for a while. Even though the letters could take ages to arrive, I somehow felt closer to him whilst holding an air mail letter than I ever did as soon as we spoke on the phone.”

With my personal air mail envelopes at hand, i got home to realise I’d made a serious error. I needed to publish, but to whom? I had e-mail addresses for my friends based everywhere from Montevideo to Monaco but i came across i did son’t have just one postal address for any one of them anymore. Just what exactly did i actually do? I experienced no choice other than to e-mail my friends asking for their address.

Five days later, and I still haven’t got around to writing anything- preferring to possess a chat that is‘Skype. Maybe Richard was right about us surviving in a lazy age. A hundred years from now, will our descendents have any basic idea about the allure of a letter of love, heartache or politics that features travelled across the world by plane?

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