The Jubilee of Penny Postage
South Kensington
Interesting Uses
Page 5

Gustav Hamel
"Daily Mail Airman"

Gustav Hamel was the first man to fly for U.K postal service carrying mail from Hendon & Windsor. While based at Hendon airport, Colindale, London, one of his jobs was carrying mail for the Royal family from Windsor Castle. Saturday, 9th September 1911, flying his Bleriot XI monoplane, Hamel left Hendon at 4.58pm. He carried one bag of mail with 300-400 letters, about 800 postcards and a few newspapers weighing 23Ib and arrived safely at Windsor around 5.13pm. This was the first official airmail carried in Great Britain.

Gustav was the son of Dr Gustav Hugo Hamel (Royal Physician to King Edward VII) and his wife, Caroline Magdalena Elise. Although he was born in Hamburg, Germany, the family emigrated to England about 1899 and was Naturalized as a Citizen about 1910.

Learning to fly at the Blériot school at Pau, France in 1910, Louis Blériot commented that he had never seen a pilot with such natural ability. He held Aéro-Club de France's Flight Certificate #358 and would receive the Royal Aero Club's Aviator's Certificate #64 on 14 February 1911.
Gustav was one of the pilots who took part in a demonstration of flying to various members of the government, by carrying dispatches to Aldershot and returning with a reply. The 64 mi (103 km) round trip took two hours, including time lost restarting his engine for the return flight.
Gustav disappeared over the English Channel on 23 May 1914. He was returning from Villacoublay with a new 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape engined Morane-Saulnier monoplane intending to race that plane in the Aerial Derby the same day.

Gustav was a showman, giving exhibitions of flying, taking interested people for rides and carrying 'Favour Mail'. The above example is one carried, not part of the Official Mail, as it is neither addressed, nor put through the post for 'official' cancellation.

Gustav Hamel loops the loop
over the George IV Gateway,
Windsor Castle.
From the book, 'Flying',
by Gustav Hamel & Charles Turner. 1914




26th March, 2017