Feature article

The following is from the archives of our Society. It has been presented from an article by Fred Rafael that appeared in the journal of the Austria Philatelic Society of New York, predecessor of our present society. No part of this material may be reproduced without the express written permission from the Austria Philatelic Society U.S. Edited by the web master for format purposes.


By Fred Rafael

(This first appeared in the May-June 1961 issue of the Austria Philatelic Society Bulletin, Volume XIII, No. 5-6)

The conquest of the air was an exciting adventure during the first half of this century. Balloons, non-rigid and rigid air ships, air planed made distances seem to shrink every ten years or so. From the beginning, all these means of transportation were connected with mail. The early balloon pioneers used to drop cards on their flights, many of which were found and now adorn special collections. The same is true of most of the air ship flights and particularly of the Zeppelins, which with German thoroughness systematically organized the transportation of mail for special fees and stamps and contributed to the development of the art of the cachet.

The end of the monarchy in Austria-Hungary and the Peace of St. Germain forbidding Austria to have any aviation whatsoever, closed the glorious first chapter of Austrian aviation history highlighted by Przemyal flights, seaplane service on the Adriatic cost, and world's first scheduled national and international airlines (Vienna-Cracov-Lemberg-Kiev and Vienna-Budapest). The second chapter opened in 1922 and reached its culmination in 1931 to 1933 with Austrian glider flights.

But the flight in the air was not all. The was the time when people began to think and talk of conquering the universe, by using rocket propulsion of course, and some even applied rockets to the problems of transporting mail over long distances. The first man to experiment with rockets for mail was In. Friedrich Schmiedl, and the first country in which these test were made was Austria. Friedrich Schmiedl was born in May 14, 1902 in Schwertberg, Styria, Austria. He studied natural sciences at the University of Graz and technical chemistry at the Technical High School, also in Graz. He started his systematic experiments as early as 1928. In less than three years they led to the word's first successful mail rocket flight. His vision of the future importance of guided rockets and his ingenuity in solving numerous technical and financial problems made Schmiedl the outstanding pioneer in the field or rocket mail. Before describing his experiments let us first take a look at history...read more