World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

Two stamps from Australia celebrate airmail centenary

July 08, 2014 03:40 PM

  • Two stamps from Australia Post honor the 100th anniversary of its first airmail flight, made by French aviator Maurice Guillaux July 16-18, 1914.

Australia Post issued two stamps July 1 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Australia’s first domestic airmail flight, made July 16-18, 1914, by Maurice Guillaux.

The 70¢ domestic-rate stamp shows Guillaux flying his Bleriot XI monoplane over a crowd of spectators.

Australia Post describes the plane as “constructed of wood and canvas held together with wire and glue and powered by an engine of around 50 horse power.”

The $2.60 international-rate stamp depicts Guillaux piloting the plane.

The designs by Jo Mure are based on watercolor illustrations by Kevin McKay. The illustrations were created but not used for 1964 stamps marking the 50th anniversary of the airmail flight.

McKellar Renown printed the new stamps by offset in sheets of 50.

A souvenir sheet with the two stamps se-tenant (side-by-side) and a prestige booklet also were produced. The booklet contains blocks of the stamps in addition to text and illustrations related to the history of Australia’s airmail service.

American aviator Eugene “Wizard” Stone originally was scheduled to make the first airmail flight. However, he crashed his plane and could not find a replacement aircraft.

Guillaux, a French aviator and stuntman visiting Australia on a promotional tour, was asked to step in to make the historic flight. He previously had made the first seaplane flight in Australia and also an unofficial airmail flight.

On the July 16-18 flight between Melbourne and Sydney, Guillaux carried a small cargo of 1,785 souvenir postcards, letters from officials and a few parcels.

He made seven stops along the way and, over the two days, was in the air for 9¼ hours, the longest airmail flight at the time.

Australia Post philatelic manager Michael Zsolt said of the new stamps: “The development of aviation greatly influenced transport and communications in the early 20th century, and in a country such as Australia it helped overcome the tyranny of distance. We are pleased to release this commemorative stamp issue, marking a significant milestone in postal and aviation history.”

The website of Australia Post’s philatelic shop is http://shop.auspost.com.au; the mailing address is Australian Philatelic Bureau, Box 4000, Ferntree Gully, Victoria 3156, Australia.

The Australian Stamp Agency in North America is located at 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008-0010.