OSHKOSH (WAOW) -- At this year's EAA Airventure, a special exhibit looks goes back a century.
They're celebrating 100 years of airmail.
"On September 23, 1911, a gentleman named Earle Ovington flew a plane, like the one behind me, about seventy miles and dropped a bag of mail out of his lap and down on the ground and that was the very first official flight carrying airmail."
Alan Westby runs the EAA Airventure museum. He says the exhibit shows the progression of the planes used and the pilots who flew them.
"These guys were hearty souls, Westby says. They were literally flying across nothing and if they crashed they were stuck there. They had to bring their own supplies with them and walk their way out wherever they were."
The airmail service paved the way for what's now commercial airlines.
Westby adds, "The very purpose of the earliest airmail was to develop routes that people could then fly later. So, as the mail got bigger and heavier, they realized that people could just as easily fit on these airplanes."
Pilot Rich Davidson of Indiana fits in one. He flies a 1928 Steerman C3B. It rolled off the assembly line the year after manufacturers stopped making the model 'T'.
He says flying it takes you back to another lifetime.
"When you step into this airplane, it's like everything turns black and white. It's like stepping back in time. You get up into the air and you look out over the fields and you feel like you're looking through someone else's eyes. The sound is different, the smell is different. It's more crude engineering, so you just can't help but think of all the stories the plane would have if it could talk."
The exhibit also included an air mail station where you can write letters and actually have them mailed via vintage bi-plane. If you're headed to EAA, check out the display in the vintage aircraft area.