If based on the AAMC catalogue, my collection of Philippine flights is far from complete but substantial enough to give you an idea on how the aerial mail service in the Philippines was developed by the U.S. Army Air Corps. From this collection I prepared an 8-frame exhibit with emphasis on key pioneer flights, carefully paying attention to routes and destinations and purposely omitting flights flown repeatedly in the succeeding years.
The exhibit I formed was based on the word "PIONEER" which technically mean first time to be conducted or made. Those flown repeatedly I no longer deem as pioneer flights. An example of this would be the numerous flights conducted from 1928 to 1929 between Manila and San Jose, Mindoro. They do not merit to be called "Experimental Flights" per AAMC catalogue. These flights I will be kind enough to declare as pilot training exercises. In fact they were junket flights, ferrying military officials to a R&R facility established at Calapan, Mindoro. Without doubt Bruggmann caused their listing as he produced majority of the covers for the sole purpose of selling them to flight cover collectors.
Recently I was fortunate to acquire a 1914 TOM GUNN DEMONSTRATION FLIGHT COVER (actually a view card) with the boxed-in cachet which is partially over struck with the MANILA / APR 15 duplex.
AERIAL MAIL SERVICE / INAUGURATED BY / TOM GUNN / Manila, P.I.
This card goes part of the way to you by aerial mail.
I have seen a flying machine fly.
In my list, this is the now the PHILIPPINES #1 and the Ruth Law is #2. Many will argue that unlike the Ruth Law, the Tom Gunn flight is not documented. They are mistaken. Tom Gunn carried a mailbag which the Bureau of Posts provided. The boxed in flight cachet was also prepared by the Bureau of Posts. The difference between the two is that there was no aero club at the time the Tom Gunn flight was made. Such absence should not be used not to accept it as the new Philippines #1. As you go through the collection you will note many AAMC unlisted flights. I have taken the tasked to trace the routes of the listed flights in relation to the unlisted ones and come to a conclusion that these covers were indeed flown. I also took into account the land distance from point A to point B, the number of stops made by mail carriers for surface delivery as compared to air delivery. Many of the unlisted flights were conducted within the Visayas and Mindanao area. I am from Mindanao and like the palm of my hand know the area and the Visayas very well.
Several years back a foreign collector expressed his doubt on a couple of the unlisted flights in my collection simply because they did not have the Bruggmann name on them while no questions were raised on "unlisted" flights bearing his name. A great number of flight covers bear the Bruggmann name. He is indeed the father of Philippine aerophilately. He is however not Philippine aerophilately. Many of the covers were not prepared by Bruggmann himself but by his associates and even rivals in the trade. There are also covers prepared by pure collectors many of which Bruggmann was not aware of. After dissecting Bruggmann's listing I came to realize that his very own data which greatly influenced the AAMC catalogue is quite bias -- tailored to the selling list of materials on hand.
I will cite two specific examples wherein Bruggmann failed to list two pioneer flights that bear his name. First is the 1926 Postal Emergency Flight from Tayabas to Manila and the second is the 1931 Chichester flight from Masbate Island to Manila. To date I am still at a loss on how such important flights were left out in his listing. There is only one logical answer: The relevant flight information never got to Bruggmann.
It is no secret that many of the "local collectors" did not like Bruggmann because he wanted to control the preparation and marketing of flight covers. His domain were flights conducted mostly within the Luzon area and the likes of Mallari, Jalandoni, Pertierra, Ferraz, plus several other Chinese collectors took care of flights conducted to, from and within the Southern Islands and Mindanao. An example of a flight that Bruggmann was not aware of is the 1930 Iloilo to Muntinglupa, a U.S. Army Air Corps special flight. This is a Mallari cover, a collector whose resentment to Bruggmann was widely known. Another flight that Bruggmann was not aware of is the 1931 Davao to Fort Stotsenburg flight.
As collectors, we must not confine ourselves to what was known then and what is listed in the catalog. In the process of assembling this collection I looked at the AAMC and Bruggmann's listing as a reference but never embraced both as the bibles of Philippine aerophilately. This principle I also apply in collecting the pioneer flight years of China, Japan and Egypt. Most important, i do not use catalogs when I am asked to judge aero collections. Covers make a collection or an exhibit and not the catalog.
The catalog or listing presented together with this collection is the result of many minds meeting in the middle. Abe or "aql" is the front of all our minds. Whatever your conclusions may be, one cannot veer from the fact that this collection represents and important era of Philippine philately. It is only through the sharing of information that we can produce our very own listing, one that will be as accurate as possible so that the others will benefit from what we passionately collect.
Daghan salamat sa inyong tanan.*