The Swing Shift Shuffle is a radio program of swing, big band, jazz, boogie woogie and other popular music from the 1930's and 40's that airs every Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (US Central Time) on WEVL 89.9 FM in Memphis, Tennessee, with a live webcast at In addition to the radio show, this blog is dedicated to all aspects of the Swing Era, including art, automobiles, cartoons, comics, history, movies, music, news, science, technology, and anything else that happened during that time. It also includes announcements about events in the Memphis/Mid-South area related to the Swing Era, such as classic movies, concerts, dances, lectures, etc. If you see something that fits the description, send it to me at If you would like more information about the radio show, just go to the Radio Show FAQ page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mail By Autogyro

Yesterday, a postal employee landed a gyrocopter on the Capital building lawn in Washington, D.C.  He was carrying letters to members of Congress urging them to enact campaign finance reform.  While this gentleman's political statement was certainly not authorized by his employer, the U.S. Postal Service (although he did have USPS decals on his aircraft), as Gizmodo noted in this post, the USPS once used gyrocopters, or "autogyros" as they were called back then, to deliver the mail.  This late 1930's film from Eastern Airlines shows one of the company's autogyros delivering the mail between Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.

Autogyros are very interesting aircraft, and were a popular early alternative to helicopters.  Although they resemble helicopters, the distinguishing feature is the main rotor.  Helicopters use their main overhead rotor for lift, propulsion and directional control.  Autogyros used their overhead rotor only for lift, relying on an airplane type propeller to pull or push the craft through the air, and control surfaces such as rudders for directional control.  As a result, autogyros are much simpler, and thus were much cheaper to acquire, operate and maintain than early helicopters, but they could still take off and land in very small spaces. 

No comments: