Rare mail service plane donated to Owls Head museum
Owls Head — A rare 1930 Pitcairn PA 7S Sport Mailwing has been donated to the Owls Head Transportation Museum by the estate of Stephen Pitcairn and the Pitcairn Trust Company.
"This is an exciting donation for the museum," said aircraft conservator Karl Erickson. "There are very few of these aircraft left in operating condition. The story of the design and its role in aviation history fits perfectly within the museum's mission."
Designed by Harold Pitcairn in 1927, the Pitcairn Mailwing was the workhorse of the U.S. Air Mail Service. Powered by a Wright Whirlwind engine, the same engine that powered Charles Lindberg's Spirit of St. Louis, the Mailwing could carry up to 500 pounds of mail in its specially-designed forward cockpit. The airplane was noted more for its speed that its carrying capacity. The Pitcairn Mailwing was used by the postal service up until commercial airlines provided a more efficient alternative for transporting the mail.
A Sport Mailwing refers to the fact that it was outfitted for private use with passenger seating instead of a mail compartment. This airplane is one of only four PA-7 Mailwings known to exist, and the only one with factory installed passenger seating. It also has the same engine that was on the aircraft when new at the factory which is very unusual for an aircraft of this age.
The Pitcairn Sport Mailwing is now on display inside the museum. It will play an active role in the museum's antique airplane shows during the 2013 season that begins next May.
Open daily, year-round, the Owls Head Transportation Museum is located at 117 Museum St. in Owls Head. For information call 594-4418 or visit owlshead.org.