The Pioneer Period to 1918
Allen D. Jones
The first officially sanctioned, fixed-wing, pioneer airmail flight took place over a five-mile route between Allahabad and Naini Junction in India on February 18, 1911. The event was held in conjunction with the United Provinces Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition and flown by the French aviator Henri Pequet.
Argentina, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Morocco, Norway, and the United States followed India that year into the airmail age after the Allahabad flight. Many countries had mail flown or prepared to be flown prior to the 1911 flight, but this mail was either not flown by fixed-wing aircraft, not flown at all, or not officially sanctioned by a postal entity.
Generally any item, especially if it is flown, representative of airmail prior to regular scheduled airmail service from any country is collectible. Most pioneer material is collected by country, pilot, or aircraft type.
As with any philatelic collecting area, some items can be difficult or expensive to attain. However, research and knowledge in specific area(s) of collecting interest have netted collectors many previously unknown items, supporting the fact that knowledge reaps results.
Those who elect to collect material from the pioneer era of any country experience one of the most colorful periods of aerophilately, when each flight was an adventure, and each success a cause for celebration.