Space Cover #61: Willow Missile Flight, Hawaiian Missile Mail, July 4, 1960
A small group of U.S. Army personnel from the 108th CIC Army group, based in Hawaii, thought a missile mail test to celebrate Hawaii's entry as a State into the United States and release of the 50 star American flag in Hawaii on July 4, 1960, would be a superb event to commemorate!
The U.S. Army test group determined that a Regulus 1 missile possibly could fly the missile mail for their test and pressed appropriate U.S. Military authorities to obtain permission for the test. On July 4, 1960 as the Hawaii airmail stamp had its first day of issue, a Regulus 1 missile, called Willow, was launched for the test, and fired 409 miles to an airstrip at Barking Sands, the Pacific Missile Range, Kauai, Hawaii. Onboard the test missile were the 43 covers the U.S. Army group had placed inside a compartment to commemorate the flight and Hawaiian statehood.
This special Artcraft cachet for the first day of issue of the Hawaiian statehood airmail stamp appears to be just another first day cover, but upon closer look, observe the simple "flown via missille" (misspelled) rubber stamp marking centered on the envelope under the Hawaiian airmail stamp, and designating this as a flown cover from the test. On the reverse side, observe that the flown cover is numbered and signed by Colonel J. J. Perry, INF-AUS, Commanding, with a short description of the U.S. Army missile test that was conducted in flying the covers on the test missile Willow. Of the 43 covers that were flown to Barking Sands in the Pacific Missile Range on this date, many of the covers later were reported destroyed at the request of the U.S. Government. The reasoning for this is not known. But, as seen above, not all of the Willow missile test covers were destroyed.
Check those cover dealer dollar boxes. You may find some fireworks and a Hawaiian surprise for the Fourth of July waiting for you.