How Wyoming’s Sky Cowboys Changed Aviation Worldwide
There was a time when brave men captured our imagination, high up in the sky.
They were the cowboys of the air.
They were the first postmen to deliver air mail. The most important base across the West was Cheyenne, Wyoming.
These brave pilots flew in old WWI biplanes, open to the elements, year-round.
Their mission was to push America into the next phase of technology with coast-to-coast flights.
This later became the first passenger flight across America, which gave us the airlines we have today.
At the time, Cheyenne was the most important hub for the first passenger planes.
A lot has changed since then.
This humble little grass airstrip that was once a mile outside of Cheyenne is now in the center of town, as Cheyenne grew around it.
In the video below, you will see how Wyoming changed American (and world) aviation.
Medicine Bow has always been a humble little town.
The town was even made famous in the best-selling novel, The Virginian.
As if the Pony Express wasn't daring enough, next came the brave and slightly foolhardy men who first took the mail to the sky.
Using old and not-so-reliable World War I surplus planes, the United States Postal Service was determined to figure out how to fly mail from coast to coast saving up to a month of travel time if they were successful.
At the little Medicine Bow airport there is a cement arrow, pointing the flyers to their next stop. These arrows were placed across the nation for the pilots to see and follow from the air.
The only way to navigate was to fly low and follow the Union Pacific railroad tracks across the country and across Wyoming.
The video below will show you what sort of airports they were looking for.
Cheyenne, Medicine Bow, Rock Springs, and other towns along the route were refueling and repair points on the map.
Many planes crashed, for a long list of reasons. Some men died.
The book "Wyoming Air Mail Pioneers" chronicles the men who were legends, heroes, and celebrities of their time. They had several stories written about them in newspapers across America.
Ask for it at your local Wyoming bookstore or order it online.