Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most unusual method of mail delivery ever attempted: mail delivery via guided missile.
On June 8 1959, a missile was installed into the USS Barbero (which had been temporarily established to be a “postal branch”) and 3000 letters were stamped and inserted as the payload. The missile was fired from sea and flew to Mayport, Florida, where the payload was deployed via parachute and the letters were collected and taken to Jacksonville for processing.
Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield remarked: “This peacetime employment of a guided missile is the first known use of missiles by any post office.” He predicted “Before man reaches the Moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India, or Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.”
Oh, those wacky 1950s people. But wouldn’t rocket mail be cool?