American Air Mail Society Founded 1923

Philippine Islands

Philippine Flights (US Territory)

The Philippine Islands became a US territory as a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898.  The United States occupied the islands, providing a wide range of administrative services, including mail delivery, especially to connect the widely spread military bases throughout the country.  The first airmail flight was February 21, 1911 at the Manilla Carnival Association meeting.  Airmail courier services began in the 1920s, once again using the fledgling US Army Signal Corps planes stationed at various Forts and Barracks scattered widely around the country.  Philippine Bureau of Posts sanctioned a number of exhibition and survey flights attempting to create a civilian airmail service.

PI 60 US Army Flight–Ft Stotsenburg-Bayombong

In 1932, Contract Air Mail was implemented by the Philippine Air Taxi Company (PATCO).  During the 1930s, the Army continued to operate around the Territory and PATCO expanded the CAM route structure.  Also, international record flights and foreign flag carriers began to transit the Philippine Islands.  Von Gronau, Light-Wilson, Japanese Good Will and British Orient flew survey flights to various cities in the territory.

The most important change came when the PI became an important stop and destination on the US FAM 14 Route in November 1935. Pan American flights dominated the skies over and around the Philippines.  PAL, Philippine Air Lines, inaugurated service in 1941 a few months prior to the Japanese invasion in December; PAL replacing PATCO on CAM routes.   After the war, some civilian service was set up by PAL in December of 1945.  The Republic of Philippines took over all airmail operations July 4, 1946.

Lee Downer, AAMS


American Air Mail Catalogue, 7th Edition, Vol. 1.