BETTIS AIRFIELD
and D. Barr Peat
 
 
 
 
 
D. BARR PEAT
 
"Ready to Go"
 
  D. BARR PEAT started Bettis Field (Pittsburgh-McKeesport Aerodrome) in a cow pasture with a rail fence on the farm of Harry C. Neel, which was across the road from his family's farm on the hill above Dravosburg, Pennsylvania.
    The U.S. air mail was carried from the west coast along the same route as the train through Chicago, Cleveland and New York to Washington, D.C.. A Pilot Romer Weyant suggested to Barr Peat that they pick up the air mail at the Cleveland air field and fly it to Washington, D.C. which would decrease the en route time for the mail from the West.
    Barr Peat got Representative M. Clyde Kelly, Republican congressman from Pennsylvania's thirty-third district, centering on McKeesport, and chairman of the House Post Office Committee to write the Air Mail Act of 1925, which is the foundation for the domestic commercial airline industry in the United States. The Kelly Act authorized the Postmaster General to contract with any individual, firm, or corporation for the transportation of air mail by aircraft [as amended the next year] for the transmission of mail by aircraft at fixed rates per pound, including equipment. The first Contract Air Mail route #11 flew into Bettis Field from Cleveland on a rainy April 21, 1927.
The Glenn Hammond Curtiss achievement award for outstanding "lifelong contribution and pioneering in the field of aviation" and for "his dogged determination in development of an air mail route" was presented to D. Barr Peat on May 19, 1962 in Bedford, Pennsylvania at a reunion of the OX5 Club of Pennsylvania.
    He was born in Dravosburg, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1896. He was a survey engineer and real estate developer. He married a school teacher, Flora M. Forbes of McKeesport on September 25, 1929. They had three children: David, Carolyn, and Forbes, and seven grandchildren: Debra, Scot, David, Richard, Robert, Darcy, and Brian. He died on May 2, 1972.
From a copy of the tribute vignette Carolyn Peat wrote for the book,
Aviation Pioneers, The History of the Curtiss OX-5.
See Below
 

 
 
Bettis Dedication
 
 
November 14, 1926 - Air Maneuver's and Dedication of Bettis Field
From left to right:
      1.     Unidentified
      2.     Unidentified
      3.     Unidentified
      4.     Air Maneuver's and Dedication of Bettis Field
      5.     Harry C. Neel, President, Pittsburgh-McKeesport Airport Company
      6.     Samuel J. Brendel, Treasurer, Pittsburgh-McKeesport Airport Company
      7.     George R.
      8.     Lieut. Pond, Navy Pilot
      9.     Miss Bettis
    10.     Merle A. Moltrup, Chief Pilot, CAM 11
    11.     Kenneth "Curly" Lovejoy, Pilot, CAM 11
    12.     Flora Forbes
    13.     D. Barr Peat, Manager, Bettis Field

Bettis Field
U.S. Air Mail Terminal
C. A. M. 11
Collection of Carolyn Peat, 9-28-06
 

 
 
CHRONOLOGY OF BETTIS FIELD
1918 to 1948
Compiled by Carolyn Peat
 
  1918 "When Peat was 22..." Across the road from his family's farm on the hill above Dravosburg, Pennsylvania in a cow pasture with a rail fence, a site was cleared on the farm of Harry C. Neel, and made available and open to any pilots who wanted to land.  
  1919 Clifford Ball's chance encounter with Eddie Stinson and his Zephyr Fliers at air field.  
 
To read the rest of this story, click on:
CHRONOLOGY
 

 
 
QUOTES ABOUT AIR MAIL
Compiled by Carolyn Peat
 
  The first commercial use of airplanes was for transporting mail. (May 15, 1918)

. . . Edward Hubbard persuaded Canadian postal authorities to let him fly Orient-bound mail from Seattle to Victoria on steamer days and pick up mail bound for the United States from Canadian Pacific liners just in from the Orient. The service started on March 3, 1919. Thus the Hubbard-Boeing operation might be considered the first private enterprise air mail operation in the country.
 
 
To read the rest of this story, click on:
AIR MAIL
 

 
 
LETTER FROM ITHRENE BETTIS
Sister of Cyrus K. Bettis
Collection of Carolyn Peat, 10-14-05
 
      This is a self-explanatory letter from Lieut. Bettis' sister, given to me either by Herb Miller or Ed Vance. It also includes a photograph of her standing by a plane on Bettis Field. You can read the letter by clicking on:
LETTER
 

 
 
RECOMMENDED READING
 
 
Aviation Pioneers
Aviation Pioneers: The History of the Curtiss OX-5 Engine

 

 
Product Details
Cloth: 9 x 12 inches
List Price: $47.95
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company, 2007
ISBN: 1-59652-187-2
 
  Description:
Description:
Aviation Pioneers: The History of the Curtiss OX-5 is a limited edition volume celebrating 50 years of the OX-5 Aviation Pioneers history. This beautiful, 9x12, hardbound book includes the history of the Curtiss OX-5 engine, club awards, biographies & so much more. Get your copy today, while they last!
 

 
 
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