What is Aerophilately?

Airmail as a collecting area that mirrors aviation history and the aeroplane's impact on the world's communication systems.  As aeroplanes gradually became faster and larger, and with the expansion of aviation in general, the possibility of sending mail by air increased accordingly. The very large volume of mail transported by air forms the basis of a fascinating and complex philatelic collecting area.


7 October 1870 Balloon Monte , letter carried on board the "Armand Barbes" balloon,
forwarded to Australia via Suez on board the  "RMS Rangoon" 


The world of airmail, all of which is a product of less than one century, offers the collector almost limitless choice. Much of it is yet untapped, still waiting to challenge the initiative and creativity of an airmail collector.


Columbia - SCADTA - 1stFlight Cartagena to Barraquilla – 22 Feb 1920


Airmail collectors, or aerophilatelists, come from all walks of life throughout the world. They share a passion for aviation and its effect on worldwide communication. Many were stamp collectors as children, who returned to stamp collecting in later life and chose a speciality that offered new challenges and knowledge. Others are advanced philatelists of a specified country who wished to research the postage rates and the usage of airmail covers and stamps in their specialised collection area. For all of them, airmail collecting offers great opportunities to meet fellow collectors, exhibit their collections, write about discoveries and share enthusiasm, for instance on the Internet. This is a collecting field full of fun and creative people.


London - Batavia Flight - 23 Sept 1930

The collecting areas are numerous, and you choose what and how you collect. We are giving you some ideas here, on various ways to build up an airmail collection but remember: Use your imagination. The sky is the limit!

Collecting Areas

  • The development of airmail within a country or a geographic area
  • Mail carried on a specific route or mail connection
  • Mail sent from a particular town or airport
  • The study of airmail stamps, labels, vignettes, etc.
  • Mail carried by a particular type of aeroplane/catapult plane
  • Mail carried by a particular airline company
  • Mail carried by airship/zeppelins
  • Mail carried by balloons or sailplanes/gliders
  • Pigeon mail
  • Collecting by aviators
  • Collecting aircraft on stamps
  • Mail flown in a specified time period
  • Crash/recovered mail
  • Military airmail
  • Rocket mail
  • Air dropped propaganda leaflets


Japanese propaganda leaflet dropped on Australian troops in New Guinea


If you would like to exhibit your favourite aerophilatelic material, you should be a member of a philatelic society and aim to exhibit first at a local or regional stamp exhibition near where you live. Much experience can be gained from exhibiting at this level. After you have learned more about exhibiting, you may wish to show your material at the national level. Once a vermeil medal is won at a national exhibition, you may try exhibiting internationally.

Covers, stamps and other related material for your collection can be obtained from dealers' stocks at stamp exhibitions and fairs, by mail-order from established dealers, from the club and public philatelic auctions, by exchange with other collectors, and through advertisements in the philatelic press. Joining an airmail society is one way of obtaining information about these sources. Most of the larger societies publish a journal for their members.