Space Cover #90: First Recovery Ship Cover?
Fifty years ago this month a chimp named HAM (an acronym for Holloman Aerospace Medicine Center) rode the Mercury-Redstone 2 test flight and was recovered. This is not to say that HAM had a peachy flight though - the Redstone lofted his capsule higher than expected, causing him to experience nearly 17 times the force of gravity (17 g's) on re-entry. And the escape tower inadvertently fired, causing him a harsh 20 g jolt for one second. Then after splashdown, the capsule started taking on water and was listing nearly 90 degrees in the ocean when recovery helicopters from the U.S.S. Donner found it. But HAM performed his tasks exactly as trained and came out of the capsule in fine shape and fine disposition!
As noted above, helicopters from the U.S.S. Donner found the capsule and returned it to the Donner. However the Donner's post office was not open that day. However, an enterprising naval cover collector, Rich Hoffner, did send 63 covers to the secondary recovery ship, U.S.S. Warrington to be postmarked for the Mercury-Redstone 2 recovery. One is shown above. Was this the first recovery ship cover? It's the first one that I know of. Thoughts from the rest of you?
One added bit of interest is that Mr. Hoffner just joined cS recently to comment on another recovery ship cover. Rich, any comments or recollections on this cover that you'd care to share?