It’s probably not something that’s ever crossed your mind, unless you’re one of the perpetually curious, but the next time you arrange for a parcel to be delivered, spare a moment to wonder at those who’ve had to deliver the not just strange and bizarre, but also potentially dangerous, or to the strangest of places.
Airmail is unexceptional nowadays, but the first attempt at airmail was a bit of a failure. John Wise, an aeronaut, was given 123 letters in 1859, all to be delivered in New York City from Lafayette, Indiana. John took off in his hot air balloon on August 17, and promptly drifted south for five hours, covering only thirty miles. Finally, Wise landed in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he gave the mail he was carrying to a postal agent who put it on a train for New York. His journey was dubbed a “trans-county-nental” flight, and can be blamed on the 90 degree heat and lack of wind for its failure.
Speaking of unusual air mail, just last month, FedEx delivered two live pandas, a breeding pair called Er Shun and Da Mao, to Toronto Zoo in Canada, and it wasn’t the first time that the express transportation giant had done so, they have a track record for safely delivering pandas to a number of zoo’s across the world.
In a similar vein, DHL have delivered three endangered black rhinoceroses to the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. The specially adapted plane had to accommodate not just the rhinos, but also the equipment needed to sustain them in-flight, two rhino keepers, two aircraft engineers and a specialist vet! Talk about a logistical nightmare!
Of course, there was a time when it wasn’t just animals that could be posted. In 1914, a four year old child named May Pierstorff was sent through the post to visit her Grandmother in Lewiston. May’s parents, in Grangeville, Idaho, worked out that sending her via Parcel Post was cheaper than purchasing a full fare on public transport. As she came in under the weight requirement (48.5lbs out of a maximum 50lbs), May was posted to her Grandmother’s for the same price as chickens. With fifty-three cents of postage pinned to her coat, May was bundled up and put in the baggage car where the postal clerk took care of her, and she was delivered to her Grandmother by the postmaster upon her arrival in Lewiston.