Stephen H. Taylor-Smith
This is part of an article originally printed is the catalogue of the Nederland National Philatelic Exhibition 1990. Written by Bert van Eijck and translated for Orbit by Charles Bromser.
Stephen Hector Taylor-Smith was the most innovative of the early rocket pioneers. Unlike Schmiedl whom the Austrian Authorities banned from further experimenting, Smith was encouraged in his experiments by Indian Officials. In the ten year span of his experiments (1934-1944), Smith made some 270 launches, including at least 80 rocket mail flights.
On September 30, 1934, he launched his first mail rocket, using a rocket made locally by the Orient Firework Company of Calcutta. The flight was a ship-to-shore launch, The rocket carrying 143 covers, left the D.V. Pansy and exploded mid-air scattering the mail over the sea. 140 covers were recovered and taken to the Saugor Lighthouse, where the keeper postmarked the mail. This was followed by: shore-to-ship, night, and miniature newspaper flights.
Smith’s flights in Sikkim, a British Protectorate in the eastern Himalayas, received official sanction from the local ruler, Here he carried out 20 successful rocket experiments and achieved the first rocket parcel mail.
Smith made history once again, when he used his rockets to carry a food package across a river to the Quetta region, which had suffered an earthquake. The package contained: rice, grain, spices, biris (Indian cigarettes) and 150 rocketgrams. Stephen Smith also effected the world’s first livestock transport when on 29th June 1935, a rocket carried a cock and hen together with 189 rocketgrams across the river Dammoordar. Both animals survived the flight and were donated to a private zoo in Calcutta. A later effort, successfully carried; a snake (Miss Creepy), an apple and 106 covers.
Smith demonstrated his experiments during the war years, few items of mail were carried on these flights, The last series of rockets were gas propelled and the last flight took place on 4th December 1944.
Below are two Rocketgrams