North German Lloyd Lines 'Catapult Mail' Service
Innovation and aircraft and delivering the mail have gone hand-in-hand since the first use of air travel to advance the mail. No more interesting example of this can be found than with the development of catapult mail. Prior to the advance of aviation to a point of reliable transatlantic travel, the North German Lloyd Line founded a mixed mode mail service. North German Lloyd Line outfitted two ships, the Bremen and the Europa, with airplanes and catapult equipment for transatlantic voyages. When the ship approached the aircraft's range off the destination shore, the airplane was catapulted off the ship and the plane would fly the remaining distance with the mail. For the extra postage fee, 1 or 2 days would be cut from the delivery time for the transatlantic mail service. The service operated between May and October, due to the harsh winter weather which made the program impractical during the winter months. The service ran from the test period in 1929 and regularly operation in the summers of 1930 through 1936. With the advance of aviation, transatlantic flights made the catapult mail system unnecessary, but for a period of time it was a successful application of innovation in delivering the mail.