Air Mail Memorial

Washington is full of memorials to people or events. Most are big and impossible to miss. But some are rather small and almost impossible to find, like the memorial to the first scheduled air mail flight. You can find it along the river in West Potomac Park on what used to be the polo grounds.

It commemorates the hazy August morning in 1918 when President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson gathered with thousands of others to see the first regularly air mail service depart Washington to New York city with a stop in Philadelphia.

This is a time when there are no aeronautical maps, two-way radio, signal beacons, radar, gyroscopes, instruments, nor lighted runways.  All the pilot had was a compass and a road map. Pilots flew close to the ground and looking for landmarks. It was a very dangerous job. Thirty-five pilots die in the first 8 years of air mail service.

The army, which initially ran the service, selected its most experience pilot for the job. Regrettably, he was replaced by Lt. George Boyle, a pilot just out of flight school who was the fiancée of the daughter of a judge who helped the post office out of a jam.

Boyle was told to follow the railroad tracks to Philly. And he did. Except he followed them south. Realizing his mistake, he lands in a field in Waldorf, MD. The field was just plowed so the plane crashes on touch down. The mail was trucked back to DC and flew north the next day.  Boyle was unhurt. But when he crashed two days later on a Philadelphia country club’s golf course, he is dismissed from the air mail service.

It’s hard to imagine now, but air travel that we know today owes its existence to the postal service.  It’s because of airmail that a network of airports is built across the country.

And the private contractors that eventually take over airmail delivery from the government become the airlines of that today provide the service to which we’ve become painfully accustom.

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
1 to 8

Arlington National Cemetery: The Work of the Dead

Every working day more than twenty Americans who sacrificed for their country are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  On this tour we learn that while Arlington's dead rest in peace, they are always working.  Here we will explore how people from every background remind us of our heritage and our responsibility to one another.

from
250 USD
Duration
2 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
1 to 8

Hidden on Capitol Hill

Few people think beyond the Capitol when they think of the Hill. This tour takes you to the heart of a neighborhood with a fascinating history that still speaks to us today. Learn about these famous locations from a former Capitol Hill resident.

from
250 USD
Duration
2 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
1 to 8

Embassy Row: Divinity & Diplomats

Most Embassy Row tours don’t venture far beyond Dupont Circle. But ours does. We see it all from top to bottom. This stretch of Massachusetts Avenue used to be called Millionaires Row where Gilded Age robber-barons built grand mansions. Today those mansions house most of Washington’s embassies, along with private clubs and statues of world heroes such as Mandela, Gandhi, and Churchill – and we will be right in the heart of it.

from
250 USD