To mark the centenary of the airmail services, the Indian Postal Department along with the Indian Air Force commemorated the first air postal service on the tarmac of Bamrauli Airport, on 12th Feb.2011.
The world’s first airmail service took off between Allahabad and Naini on February 18, 1911, with 6500 letters and 40 autograph picture postcards in Humber Sommer biplane. French aviator Henry Pequet was the pilot. The credit for the start of the airmail service goes to the Commander Sir Walter G Windham and the then post master general of United Provinces, Sir Geoffrey Clarke.
At around 9.45am on Saturday, two chopper pilots, Wing commander Mukesh Kothari and Squadron leader Anshul Saxena, took off from Bamruali Air Force Station on Chetak helicopter and carried 500 odd letters to Naini, thus revisiting the history. Incidentally, the day on which the first airmail was carried, i.e, February 18, 1911, was also a Saturday.
The chief guest on the occasion was Governor BL Joshi while the guest of honour was AOC Central Command, Air Marshall GS Kochar. The chief postmaster general, UP Circle, Lucknow, Col Kamlesh Chandra and postmaster general, Allahabad region, Udai Krishna were also present.
On the occasion, Joshi released four postal stamps, issued by the Indian postal department. Each stamp, of Rs five denomination, carries picture of the first airmail service. While one stamp shows the famous Allahabad Fort along with the sketch of two rivers and the area of Naini, the other shows the airplane and photo of the pilot. There was a rush among visitors to buy the rare first day cover. The French government too would issue a special stamp on February 18 to commemorate the event.
Those who witnessed the start of the airmail service in 1911 included the then governor of United Provinces Sir John Hewett and Lady Hewett along with thousands of citizens and pilgrims who had assembled at Sangam for the Kumbh Mela. On Saturday too, thousands watched the Chetak helicopter fly on the blue sky of Sangam city.
Earlier India Post had released Stamps and first day covers twice on the Golden and Platinum jubilee of the First Airmail.