The flight to Naini lasted barely 13 minutes and the plane flew a mere five miles but created history, said Krishna Kumar Yadav director postal services, Allahabad region, talking to TOI.
He said as per records it was the world's first official airmail and among the many letters sent via this system was the one written by Motilal Nehru to his son Jawaharlal and some were addressed to England's King George V.
Yadav added that decision to start the first airmail flight was taken during a large industrial exhibition being held at Allahabad that year in 1911. The idea was conceived by British commander Walter G Windham. The chaplain of Allahabad's Holy Trinity Church, who was also warden of Oxford and Cambridge hostels, approached Windham to help him raise funds for a new hostel. Windham felt that an Airmail flight could do the trick. He felt it would also publicise the exhibition as well as set an example of rapid and safe transportation of mails. Thus, the idea of the world's first official airplane mail was born. Those interested in availing the service were asked to send their mail addressed and stamped to the chaplain of the Holy Trinity Church. A nominal sum of six annas was sought as donation for the new hostel building. Only cards or letters weighing less than one ounce were accepted. Since the occasion was ceremonial, these letters were addressed to people all over the globe.
Thousands including those who had come to attend the Kumbh Mela viewed the take-off of the first airmail flight at Polo ground and the safe landing, which took place at a spot near Naini junction, cleared specially for the occasion by convicts from the central jail. When Piquet descended, there was no crowd to greet him. He merely handed over the mail bag to the only post office official present there and returned to Allahabad.
Piquet noted that he flew on a Sommer bi-plane with a rotary Gnome engine of 50 horsepower at the speed of 60 miles per hour at a height of 120-150 feet. "Before landing, I flew over the Ganga and I was not quite sure that I would make it," said Piquet in an interview to a French air force magazine before he died in 1974 at the age of 86, said Yadav.