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Earle Ovington and wife circa 1913
Edward M. Morgan, Frank Harris Hitchcock, and Earle Lewis Ovington and the Blériot XI
Edward M. Morgan, Frank Harris Hitchcock, and Earle Lewis Ovington

Earle Lewis Ovington (December 20, 1879 – July 21, 1936) was an American aeronautical engineer, aviator and inventor, and served as a lab assistant to Thomas Edison. Ovington piloted the first official airmail flight in the United States in a Blériot XI on September 23, 1911.[1] He carried a sack of mail from Nassau Boulevard aerodrome, Garden City, New York to Mineola, New York. He circled at 500 feet and tossed the bag over the side of the cockpit and the sack burst on impact, scattering letters and postcards.[2] He delivered 640 letters and 1,280 postcards, including a letter to himself from the United States Post Office Department designating him as "Official Air Mail Pilot #1."[3][4]


He was born on December 20, 1879 in Illinois.[5][6] He married Adelaide in 1911 and they had two children: Earle Kester Ovington (1912–2006) and Audrey Ovington (1914-2005)[7][8] He built a house in the Samarkand area of Santa Barbara, California which included an airstrip. While this airstrip wasn't the ultimate site of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airfield, it did serve in that capacity until Ovington's death. He died on July 21, 1936.[4][9] He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "America by Air".
  2. ^ "E. L. Ovington Dies. First Mail Pilot. Flew the Initial Consignment From Garden City Estates to Mineola, L. I., in 1911". The New York Times. July 23, 1936. Retrieved 2008-12-23. From Garden City Estates to Mineola, L. I., in 1911. Covered Ten-mile Route. Studied at Bleriot School at Pau, France. Owned Air Terminal at Santa [Barbara]
  3. ^ "Earle Ovington". Airmail Pioneers. Archived from the original on 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2008-12-23. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b "Earle Lewis Ovington". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  5. ^ 1880 US Census
  6. ^ Passenger list traveling from Ensenada, Mexico on 17 Jun 1931 to Los Angeles, California
  7. ^ 1930 US Census
  8. ^ a b "To Cast Ovington Ashes Into Sea". The New York Times. July 24, 1936. Retrieved 2008-12-24. His widow, Mrs. Adelaide Ovington, said she would take the ashes East at a future date in compliance with the pioneer aviator's request.
  9. ^ "Ovington, First Air-Mail Pilot, Called By Death". Los Angeles Times. July 22, 1936. Retrieved 2008-12-23. Earle L. Ovington, 56 years of age, pioneer aviator and first airmail pilot in America, died at 4 p.m. yesterday at the Good Samaritan Hospital. For seven weeks he had made a vain effort to cheat death as he had many times before in his eventful career as naval of-...

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