24¢ Carmine Rose & Blue, 1918 Air Post, Grounded Plane Variety (C3 variety), bottom selvage block of four, vignette shifted down with wheels extending below the mid-point of "Cents"--this is known as the Extreme Grounded Plane variety--pristine gum described by the P.F. as "previously hinged," an opinion with which both Professional Stamp Experts and we disagree--in our opinion, it is Mint N.H., bright fresh colors on brilliant paper
"Saddleback" collection, Siegel Auction Galleries, 5/22/2007, Sale 935, lot 176
Jay Hoffman, Siegel Auction Galleries, 5/8-9/2008, Sale 956, lot 535, to William H. Gross
The Philatelic Foundation (2003) as previously hinged, and harshly describing bottom left stamp with a small internal crease
Professional Stamp Experts (2003) as Mint N.H., lower left stamp with a light natural wrinkle, which is more accurate
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
Lieutenant Boyle's Grounded Plane
The world's first regular government airmail service was inaugurated in the United States on May 15, 1918. Planes were scheduled to take off simultaneously from New York and Washington, D.C., each stopping at Philadelphia on the three-city relay route. The plane out of the nation's capital was piloted by Lieutenant George Boyle, who had limited flying experience, but whose future father-in-law was the well-connected head of the Interstate Commerce Commission. With a crowd of onlookers and dignitaries, including President Woodrow Wilson and the First Lady, the northbound flight took off from Potomac Park field, behind schedule and headed south. The young pilot, wondering why things on the ground did not look quite right, crashed the plane in a farmer's field in Maryland, and the mail was carried back to Washington on wheels for the next day's flight.
The Grounded Plane stamps, in which the wheels of the plane break through the top of "Cents", come from portions of three sheets. The discovery sheet was owned and broken up by John Klemann of Nassau Stamp Company. A second sheet was discovered in 1946 and sold in the Thomas A. Matthews sale (H. R. Harmer 11/4/1964), where it was purchased by Georges A. Medawar, publisher of Sanabria Airmail Catalogue. In Linn's 4/21/1986, specialist Joseph R. Kirker, Jr. published his research revealing the existence of a third source of this variety. All known sheets are from the first printing, which produced the world famous Inverted Jenny error. The first printing has selvage at bottom and left, and was trimmed to remove the top and right selvage; therefore, a plate block cannot exist.