John Glenn (1921–2016) is linked to one of modern U.S. postal history’s most interesting tales that will likely never be repeated. Here is the story, according to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, with an excerpt below:
On February 20, 1962 , John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Minutes after his safe return, the Post Office released the Project Mercury stamp—the first U.S. commemorative stamp issued at the same time as the event it celebrated. It had been prepared in complete secrecy in case the mission did not succeed.
To keep the project quiet, the stamp’s designer worked from home while claiming to be on vacation. The picture engraver also gave the impression he was on leave, but came in at night. Another engraver did the lettering on weekends.
Just over 400 people knew the secret, about half of them postal inspectors. As the day approached, stamps were sent in sealed packages to 305 post offices, still a mystery even to the postmasters themselves.
The United States Love Skywriting special forever stamp will be issued January 7 nationwide. The first-day-of-issue ceremony is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino Airport, 7000 Merrill Ave #17, Chino, California.
The museum has additional details on the event page of their website.
Here is the USPS media advisory on the ceremony with additional information:
Love Skywriting Forever Stamp Dedication Includes Skywriting Demo at Chino, CA, Air Museum
WHAT: First Day of Issue ceremony for the Love Skywriting Forever Stamp that will include a skywriting demo to replicate the stamp image. WHO: USPS Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams
Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Operation Gratitude Chris Clark
Skytypers President Stephen Stinis
Skytypers CEO and Squadron Commander Greg Stinis (skywriter pilot)
Planes of Fame Aviation Historian and Air Museum Moderator Kevin Thompson
WHEN: Sat., Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. (Free admission to the first 300 attendees)
WHERE: Planes of Fame Air Museum, 7000 Merrill Ave. #17, Chino, CA 91710
BACKGROUND: The 10 a.m. program will begin with a discussion about a World War II Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and how it was used for mail delivery during the war followed by the skywriting demonstration at noon.
The Love Skywriting stamp will add a sweet, romantic touch to letters and cards, not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. The stamp art depicts the word “Love” written in white cursive script against a blue sky studded with wispy clouds. Underlining the word is a decorative swirl of smoke. A small, stylized plane, dwarfed by the giant letters, completes the end of the swirl, with smoke trailing from its tail. Louise Fili of New York City designed the stamp, illustrated by Jessica Hische of San Francisco. Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, was the art director.
Note: If the weather becomes an issue, the skywriting demo will take place the next day.