Flight History . . . . Press HERE for timeline
Since 1924 a subsidiary of United Fruit had been operating private flights between Tegus and Tela carrying employees and company communications.
In late April of 1925, a Dr. Pounds and a Karl Snow announced a service to carry correspondance, packages, and people by airplane between Tegucigalpa and Puerto Cortés on the north coast. Two flights per week were scheduled. A total of nine trips were made before the service was ended because of airplane damage. A second effort was started in the fall of 1925 but again ended in late November. This is the period of the Black Honduras and Pound's little basement printing press.
January 1926 to May 1928 - No airmail service
In January of 1926 the position of United Fruit Campany pilot needed to be filled since the previous employee in that position had left. The pool of applicants included a name you might recognize, Charles Lindburgh. The company decided that Lindburgh was unsatisfactory and instead chose Sunny Morgan, the pilot of the failed Pounds and Snow operation, fathers of C1-C13.
On February 5, 1926 Sunny made his first flight from Tela to Tegucigalpa carrying corporate correspondance. This was followed by a heavy schedule of three fights per week to United Fruit plantations all over Honduras. In October, 1926, Sunny participated in the purchase of a new airplane in New Jersey and its delivery to Louisiana where it was disassembled and shipped to Tela. It was a Fokker Super Universal that provided interior seating for six passengers. Above is the new airplane from New Jersey. It is a Fokker Super Universal.
Lindberg's Goodwill Flight
In January, 1928, Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis through Tegucigalpa as part of his Goodwill Tour. He caused quite a stir as local politicians jockeyed to be photographed with him. Sunny met with him in Tegucigalpa.
The U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Airmail Act in March. It provided for two year contracts to deliver and pick up mail for interested countries. Little interest was shown until the contract period was extended to ten years.
Roessler covers addressed to New Jersey were flown on freight flights between Tegus and Tela starting February 25, 1928. Airmail service didn't start until May.
United Fruit Airmail Service
In May the United Fruit Company firmed up a mail contract with the Honduran government to carry mail from the capital to Tela and back. Trips were started on May 15, 1928. Sunny Morgan was pilot again. The wishful schedule called for 2 flights per week. Other known flight dates are 6/1, 6/ 8, and 6/28. Fees were 6 centavos postage and 15 centavos airmail fee.
No special stamps were issued for this service. The covers can be distinguished by a Correo Aereo stamped in a corner and by Tegus and Tela postmarks being but a day apart. The rubber-stamped Roessler covers (shown below) were sent by the hundreds and collected for sale to stamp dealers in the United States. They are frauds unless they carry two cancels but a day apart and are dated May, 1928 or after.
Second airmail service cover from the June 28th flight. Covers that included an American 10c stamp were forwarded by train to the coast and put on a banana boat. CORREO AEREO TEGUCIGALPA is stamped on the fronts.
Lindberg's Survey Flight
Lindberg completed a survey flight, FAM5-1 and FAM5-2 in early February, 1929. Landed in Tela and Tegus as refuel stop on way to Panama and back. Flew over Tegus on return flight. No mail was exchanged in Honduras.
Cover carried on Lindberg's plane on FAM5-1 survey flight from Miami to the Canal Zone. It was forwarded by boat and land to Tela from Cristobal.
FAM5-3b departed Miami on May 21, 1929 and landed in Tela on May 22 the day after Tela was added to FAM-5. Below is a cover from that flight. No outgoing mail was picked up because Honduras had signed no contract.
Pan Am Airmail Service
In September 1929 Honduras signed a contract with Pan Am to carry mail between Honduras and the United States. This is FAM5-25. The first airmail flight from Tela to Miami was September 27, 1929. It had been scheduled earlier but was delayed.
Flights through Mexico to Brownsville Texas were delayed but opened as FAM8 when Lindberg piloted a Ford Trimotor in March 1929. Flights were extended to San Lorenzo in Honduras as FAM8-15 in December 1929. First flight from San Lorenzo to the US was January 22, 1930. Letters left Tegus by truck the night previous.
Alleged First Airmail Stamps of Honduras by John Myer in The American Philatelist, August 1940 pps 704-707.
Issues of Dr. Pounds in Honduras by John Myer in The American Philatelist, February 1944 pps 191-194.
Fruit Flyers: a Brief History of the Companía Aérea Hondureña by Carlos Rosa at www.laahas.com of the Latin American Aviation Historical Society.
Honduras Report by Richard Washburn The Oxcart, summer 1989.